Sunday, February 1, 2015

Down the Rabbit Hole to Wonderland: Beginning Figure Skating

Beginning in ice skating is a lot like falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. You suddenly find yourself surrounded by the lithe,
glittering creatures on white shoes with flashing blades--and the speeding blurs passing here and there, stopping in a shower of shaved ice. You hardly know where to enter, pay, or change--wait, do you walk in on those razor sharp shoes? (I was sure I would cut bleeding tracks into my hand.) Do you put those plastic things on from the Olympics? Are my blades even sharpened right?!

The first day we went I thought I was prepared.

Our favorite neighbor kids had mentioned ice skating and our kids were enthusiastic about trying. Ariana and I watched Gracie Gold skate to Let it Go and naturally she was hooked. Right up until the day we first fell into that ice Wonderland I read everything I could in forums and websites--did I mention this planning started far ahead in the humid heat of summer?

Nothing is like actually getting on the ice. If the skating club started painting white roses red I would have accepted it as a matter of course--we went to a Halloween party thrown by the Minneapolis Figure Skating Club and it was magical. Ariana dressed up as Snow White, complete with skating tights, cozy legwarmers, and beautiful, tiny white skates. Manu, her cousin, went as Boba Fett and the look was awesome--the costume even went over his skates and velcroed below the boots as if it was made for our purpose. We carried in our freshly sharpened skates having many conjectures but no clear idea what to expect.

Hitting the ice was work, as magical as it was strenuous.

Playing monkey-see, monkey do we found where to get laced up, where we would get on the ice, and where the guards would be set--well, once I figured out how to get them on in the first place. Ariana was on the ice first, gripping the boards for dear life. Next I pushed her nervous cousin after her and struggled on myself--almost taking out the people behind me, mind you. I spent a sizeable chunk of time taking the kids off the boards and out on the ice in turns, trying not to tip us down while I balanced the weight of two people. None of us had ever been skating before, if you don't count accidental glides across frozen Minnesotan sidewalks. We went from blocking the side of the rink like barnacles to edging into that beautiful ice. At the end we all held hands and stepped the smallest steps, finally leaving the ice completely transformed by it.

You can't help but be mesmerized by the magic of gliding. Ariana, at the ripe old age of four-years-old, took some offense to having to relearn standing and walking--and to accept falling. But rather than be discouraged, it lit a fire in her to learn. Is there anything more important in life?

At the time of this writing ice skating has inextricably become part of our lives. Somewhere between those first few steps on the ice to now it became a family event to set off on open skate days. We step, glide, fall, freeze, fall, and love every bit. The kids are in lessons now and so Ariana and I have conspired to share our love of figure skating; I should warn you, though, it is extremely infectious. You may find yourself halfway down that rabbit hole before you know it! Enjoy!

Keep up with Ariana's Journey:

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