A few things in my life have been serendipitous: I met my now husband at a bar on a random night out, I applied for a job in a major city I assumed was a reach…and got it, and well, my foray into skating. Let’s go back to late 2017, when I was fresh off a year and a half of wedding planning (so many craft projects) and found myself with a bunch of free time. What to do? In New England, the winter came quickly and the days became shorter, and the options for something to do were limited. So I decided to sign up for Learn to Skate at a nearby rink.
I’ve skated a solid one time a year for the past 10 years or so. I could stay upright, stop, even backward swizzle (!!) before starting Learn to Skate. I even had ~my own skates~ which hurt me just to think about now. I got them for $20 on Craigslist from a woman who seemed to be peddling her kids’ old stuff for profit. The skates were definitely too big for me and offered exactly ZERO ankle support. But there I was, the first Sunday after the new year, lacing the hell out of those flimsy skates, and ready to learn something! (I was hoping to learn a spin or a jump, but my expectations were open.)
I enjoyed learning the basics (I learned a very slow two foot spin!!), and found myself, for one of the first times in my life, wondering what more I could get out of it. I wouldn’t describe myself as a real go-getter or risk taker so this was new to me. My comfort zone is a beautiful thing. Well, it WAS a beautiful thing, now I find myself out of my comfort zone much more often, thanks to skating.
The rink where I was taking lessons was closing for the season, so I begrudgingly thought maybe I could just pick skating up again next winter. But I knew I needed REAL skates, so I got fitted for some snazzy Riedells. I looked around for ice time or more lessons and signed up for another set of Learn to Skate at a different rink. It was there I learned a waltz jump and a half toe loop! And I thought to myself, what else can I challenge myself with? I ended up supplementing the Learn to Skate lessons with private lessons with my coach from the winter, whose teaching style I really liked. I credit her with helping me stay motivated, interested and challenged. She. Is. Awesome!
Fall of this year rolled around and I had managed to have a fair amount of private lessons over the summer. My coach suggested I think about taking USFSA tests. Sounded good to me! Concrete goals with a deadline? Count me in! I joined a skating club for that reason. After joining the club, I learned there was going to be a holiday exhibition where club members could perform programs. I’d never done a program before, but this seemed like a great opportunity to work with my coach to put one together, then eventually use the program for my pre-bronze free skate test.
In December I did my program at the holiday exhibition, which was very scary but I DID IT! I picked group lessons back up this winter as well, with a focus on my pre-bronze moves in the field and free skate tests, which I took (and passed!) in April. I also started going to freestyle sessions fairly regularly, another big scary thing that I surprisingly faced head-on. I will say I’m not 100% comfortable on freestyle sessions unless there are literally two people on the ice, but hey, there’s room to grow and improve!
I think back to before I started skating and wonder why I didn’t do it sooner, but it came to me at just the right time in my life. It’s helped me in so many ways, obviously physically, but also mentally and as weird as it sounds, spiritually too. The ice rink is my sanctuary, my therapy session, my dance party, my proverbial mountain. While skating has not (yet) made me a fearless risk taker, I’m much more willing to leave my comfort zone than I was just a year and a half ago. Did I ever expect to progress as far as I have already? Absolutely not. Am I looking forward to what’s next for my skating? Absolutely.