Welcome to our world, the world that keeps on giving...People in the tight-knit figure skating world affectionately refer to it as a small community, but my theory is that it’s not so small after all, and the social aspects of visiting a skating rink and the experiences it will bring will stay with you forever.
Ice Skating and figure skating, as a sport, is a subjective art form and yet it’s also quite a technical combination of learned and practiced movements which, truly, aren’t very natural for the human body. Consider if you will, a child learning to walk. There aren’t really lessons. Eager parents encourage the child by repeating, “left, right, left, right” over and over again, until finally, ‘success’. This is movement natural to humans, and the weight of our bodies is stacked naturally as we succeed at the skill of walking. Same goes for running. Running as a sport is something its champions learn to do. They learn how to be better and faster, how to eat well and keep their body fit, uninjured and optimal, but many runners don’t seek coaching for the act of running itself.
On the other hand, ice skaters need to learn entirely new processes and set of body positions. After years of practice one can hope for a graceful result that passes as an artistic form. Then comes the fan base. Performances development from the amateur, to the competitive until finally a professional entertainer. People cheer and hope for their favorite skater who magically plays to an audience, or that raw, impressive, athlete who jumps high and lands with ease. Often different people with different tastes like one skater for very different reasons. There’s something for everyone. Even judges find it hard to combine their subjective opinions with the interpretation of the technical elements. Alas, the intrinsic appeal to the emotional side of both the performer and the audience who are engrossed in the performance and shared experience.
The skating community has an extended lineage of people who at one point or another have had a pair of ice skates on, and some who have not but who share the love for the sport and have become part of the community. There are beginners, intermediates, competitors, elites, Olympians, coaches, judges, parents, rink staff, hockey players, off-ice trainers, seasonal skaters, broadcast fans, memorabilia collectors, technical specialist, technical controllers, and last but not least, performers. I happen to think that each person who has ever worn a pair of ice skates is somehow an honorary member of the club. Skating has a vast and evolving history but one thing is pretty certain, it has always brought people together.
Going to the rink no matter the level of skill or experience can bring people together. Whether it be over a hot drink in the lobby or after a rather funny fall mid-rink, skating has a way of connecting people who have little in common with each other.
Most people will admit that the idea of figure skating has a seasonal connection for them. For example, they might have childhood memories of ice ponds or holiday Santa skates. Something about gliding around on a sheet of frozen water gets people feeling wintery, but skating is a social sport that has linked generations and even classes of people throughout history. Many people enjoy the narrative of movement.
And the moral of this story is: don’t wait for the holidays to skate. The rink is a great place to ‘Chill’… on that next scorching, hot summer day—cool off, or on that next free weekend day—get some exercise, HEY - even on your lunch break—it will energize you. Go to a rink, make a friend, try something new and experience for yourself just how good it feels to be in a social club that doesn’t discriminate. Nothing brings people together socially like holding each other up, picking someone up when they fall, and just laughing and having a memorable time. Really in my experience, EVERYONE is Welcome. YAY!