Folks who’ve been tantalized by Olympic ice skating flocked to Mountain View Ice Arena in east Vancouver on Saturday morning for some exhibition skating by local stars — and to try their own toes on the ice with a free beginner lesson.
“The Olympics are always a good time for this,” said skating program director Leslie Brooks-Foppe. Meanwhile, she added, Mountain View has been ramping up its programs and offerings after a long pandemic pause.
“People are tired of being locked down at home,” she said. “They want to get out and try things.”
One free Saturday session was belatedly expanded to two, she said, as approximately 150 newbies signed up to give ice skating a wobbly first try.
While there were a few bruised knees — and egos — many more beginners were pleased to learn a new skill or two. Before they even stepped onto the ice, the very littlest learners practiced getting up — one careful knee at a time — after you’ve fallen. Others began by taking baby steps across the ice in groups, all with the encouragement of experienced skating instructors.
“Imagine you’re walking with butter knives on your shoes,” said Brooks-Foppe. “It’s a balance sport.”
A few beginners even progressed as far as starting to flow gracefully backward — the way those effortless-looking Olympians do.
“I love it because it makes me happy and I go fast,” said 13-year-old Anna Berman, an accomplished roller skater who recently started trying ice, too. Berman said she’s an artistic figure skater who likes to express herself in dancelike movements on the ice.
Four-year-old Everett Morrish, a complete beginner, gave ice skating a brave try while sporting a bicycle helmet for extra protection. He enjoyed himself — and wound up a little pooped.
“He has been really excited to try it, and we’ve always been interested in ice skating,” said Everett’s mom, Samantha, a nurse at Doernbecher Children’s hospital whose hockey-mom colleague alerted her to this free session at Mountain View.
“We used to have our own Olympics” whenever it snowed in Northern California, recalled Tyler Morrish, Everett’s dad. Now, he added, winter sports usually mean grabbing any sledding opportunity — or coming inside the ice-cold Mountain View arena.
Many who try ice skating never give it up, Brooks-Foppe said, and others return to it later.
Barbara Linn said she was passionate about skating as a child, gave it up for 25 years and resumed 10 years ago. Now she’s a member of the Portland Ice Skating Club’s “Dream Girls” adult women team, which develops figure skating routines and choreographs exhibition shows.
“There’s a community of adult skaters, and it’s wonderful,” Linn said.