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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Awkward on ice: Two beginners learn to skate with a pro

Screams of terror filled the cold and barren ice rink as we slipped and plunged back, dragging one another along. We held onto each other, pulling each other down and digging our skates into the ice desperately. It was just as bad as we’d feared.

This was exactly what we thought would happen when Falcon news editor Michelle Leung, a highly skilled skater, offered to teach us to ice skate. What was once a terrifying idea turned to reality.

Ice skating, an artistic sport that requires grace and elegance, is something that neither of us has any experience in. Since we are clumsy and awkward, learning how to ice ice skate is like a baby learning how to walk.

Michelle is an instructor at Vallco Ice Center and offered to teach the basics.

As we walked downstairs to the ice skating rink under Vallco Mall, a gust of cold air blew at us — we privileged California  residents already felt uncomfortable in the chillier environment.

Because we went during the afternoon, not many people were at the rink, which was a relief because it meant that there would be fewer eyes watching when we inevitably fell or tripped over ourselves.

We rented our skates for $12 each and cautiously stepped onto the ice.

With Michelle’s guidance, we began by skating around the rink to adjust to the ice. We have to admit, after a few rounds our feet and legs were already beginning to become sore — it felt as if we were walking with high heels on ice.

Michelle started out by teaching us swizzles, a basic move that helps control the direction of one’s skates. This involves pushing the feet out and in, trying to create a smooth and continuous “V” shape.

We had gotten this move down quickly, but it was hard to look like Michelle, who was gracefully gliding like a princess on ice. With our bent backs, hands out and hunched appearance, we, in contrast, were frogs.

After the swizzles, we learned how to skate one foot at a time with our hands straight out, how to effectively stop on ice while skating and how to prepare to do some jumps. And while these all seem simple, each skill tested our unaccustomed bodies.

After the lesson, we decided it would only be right to create a routine that incorporated all the skills Michelle had taught us. Our final performance, while short and uncoordinated, was rather entertaining to watch due to our lively efforts. Thankfully, it was a slow afternoon at the rink and no one else was there to witness the horrid routine.

After skating around the  rink for an hour and a half, the soreness and fatigue began set in. At the close of the lesson, we concluded that we had neither the mental endurance nor the physical strength to be the graceful ice skaters that practiced around us. Although we were able to execute the moves taught to us, we did so in a uncoordinated and gawky fashion.

However, this opportunity allowed us to glimpse the challenges every ice skater must go through on the way to mastery, letting us to appreciate the sport much more.  And although ice skating might look more beautiful than athletic, the experience was much more physically strenuous than we realized. Michelle may be a princess on ice, but considering how fit she is, we don’t plan to get on bad side in the future.

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