FUN ON ICE

Young figure skaters enjoy learning new skills, preparing for spring show

 

Young members of the Marquette Figure Skating Club are shown at practice with their coach. (Photo courtesy of Jamie Weigold)

By 8-18 Media
People first began ice-skating around 3,000 years ago in Finland when they made primitive skates out of animal bones, according to softschools.com. Figure skating was the first winter sport to be included in the 1908 Olympics, according to kidsconnect.com. Figure skating has come a really long way over the years and now it is known as a competitive and fun sport for young athletes, and excelling at it takes time and dedication.
Marquette Figure Skating Club is a local non-profit organization that has been around since 1971. Marquette Figure Skating Club offers figure skating lessons to youth in the Marquette area, whether they are beginners or more experienced skaters. It offers group lessons, private lessons, opportunities for young skaters to compete, fundraising opportunities and a once-a-year spring ice show complete with a theme, costumes, and music that is open to the public to come out and enjoy.
This past winter was long and harsh, but local kids who take figure skating lessons from the Marquette Figure Skating Club didn’t let the cold and the snow stop them from practice, practice, practice. Jamie Weigold is one of the coaches for the Marquette Figure Skating Club. Weigold said she started skating when she was only five years old. She fell in love with the sport when her mom brought her to start taking lessons at Lakeview Arena. She has been coaching for 26 years and she was inspired to start coaching because of her love for being on the ice and her love for working with kids. Weigold teaches several classes every week as well as private lessons.
Parents might wonder what is the right age for kids to start figure skating lessons?
“We recommend that about four years old is perfect. Usually, 3-year-olds are a little bit too young to start,” Weigold explained.
She knows the sport inside and out and has some good advice for kids interested in skating and who are just getting into the sport.
“First and foremost it is important to always have fun, but when you want to get a little more technical the best advice would be to march your feet and to keep your hands out,” Weigold said.
When you are first starting to get on the ice you must take precautions to make sure you’re safe.
“Safety precautions would be, new ones (skaters) should definitely be wearing a helmet and gloves,” said Weigold. “ Other safety precautions would be to just be aware of your environment and be careful not to skate out in front of anybody or anything like that. Toe picks can be dangerous so keep your feet marching.”
Here in the U.P., where winters are long and can drag on into spring, a new activity like figure skating will help keep you up and active during the winter months. Weigold recommends the sport specifically because it can keep you motivated through our long winters. Many skaters who take lessons with the Marquette Figure Skating Club skate twice a week so that commitment can really make winters fly by.
Hayley Taylor, a fifth-grader from Marquette, said that she started skating when she was seven years old. Taylor said she was inspired to start skating because her great grandma was a skater. When learning how to figure skate there are many new skills to learn and master, but Taylor’s favorite part of skating is a little more social.
“I like skating with my friends and the coaches are really nice. It’s so fun!” Taylor said.
Taylor also offers simple but practical advice for people who are interested in skating.
“Try not to fall and don’t try moves you haven’t learned yet,” she said.
Laura Markey, a seventh-grader from Marquette, said she has been skating since she was ten years old. Markey explained that she wanted to start taking skating lessons because she saw her friend doing it.
“I was actually at open skate and I saw my friend practicing out on the rink,” said Markey. “I was like that is really cool and her mom said she’s skating with the Marquette Figure Skating Club. I said, ‘ Sweet, I want to do that,’ so my mom signed me up.”
Markey explained how she enjoys the more challenging parts of her lessons, especially practicing the jumps.
“I really like that moment when you think it’s so hard but you like … you finally get it and it’s so relieving because you finally know how to do it,” she said.
Markey said learning to skate is just about trying to do your personal best.
“It doesn’t matter how good you are, it’s just if you are learning. Put your mind into it and don’t think about what other people think of your skating. Just focus on what you are doing and not other people,” Markey said.
The skaters work all season long to improve their skills and then by spring, the end of the season ice show allows the skaters to show off their hard-earned new moves and have some fun out on the ice. Weigold helps plan the spring ice show and said that putting together a show on ice can be quite the process.
“First we pick a theme and then we pick out costumes, pick out music, cut the music, come up with choreography and then teach choreography,” Weigold explained.
Whew! Sounds like a lot of work, but the end result is worth the effort. This year’s performance is titled, “Around The World,” and will be held at Lakeview Arena on April 26 and 27. Tickets are available from NMU ticket outlets and online. For more information about Marquette Figure Skating Club please visit their website at www.marquettefigureskating.org.
(Written by Anna Martinson, 14, and Ivy Pomeroy, 9, with contributions by Lucy Bartlett, 14.)

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