Blades of glory
I must share with you a revelation. If you have occasionally taken to the ice, perhaps as a yearly jaunt to Somerset House, chances are that you are a) not very good, b) not particularly confident, and c) under the impression that it’s all quite difficult to master.
I have good news: you’re wrong.
This week I went to a figure skating lesson at The Queensway Ice and Bowl. (I might be stretching the definition of ‘figure skating’). It’s a half-hour class anyone can attend before the ice opens for a normal skating session. It is BRILLIANT.
Participants are split into three groups: beginners still clutching the side (me), intermediates starting to glide around backwards, and an advanced group capable of pirouettes and the like.
I started the session nervously staggering about within easy reach of the barrier. After just half an hour I was able to stop, do multiple forward lemons(!), glide (ish) on one leg, and GO BACKWARDS. Yes, backwards. Not well, but backwards nonetheless.
You see, the reason skating seems hard is that we all think we can teach ourselves. But there are some really simple pointers, technique-wise, that change everything. Suddenly, even the most ungainly may glide.
Armed with this knowledge, I am far less impressed when ‘celebrities’ become ice dancers with a few weeks of one-on-one training. Just pass me the orange tights.
I’d recommend a class for anyone who wants to be able to skate with confidence, whether they’re interested in the twirly stuff or not. Even if you just use it to freshen up your skills before you join in the open skating session (your £12 buys you access to the class and to the skating afterwards) it’s well worth it. The instruction is first rate, and you can even have one-on-one coaching if you start getting really good (or start off really bad).
Also, the ice isn’t over crowded as it so often is at the seasonal outdoor rinks. You can skate in peace without having to run the gauntlet of terrifying amateurs who don’t seem to mind falling over and causing pile ups.
I shall be going again. Having mastered some basics, next time I intend to aim for ‘graceful’. My leg lift will transform from ‘tentative wading bird’ to ‘drunk ballerina’.