So you think you can skate? |

So you think you can skate?

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

The medal ceremony for the Aspen Recreation Department’s Sk8-Olympics is March 1. I won’t be on the podium. With any luck, though, I’ll be able to skate around the rink as a spectator.

The medal ceremony for the Aspen Recreation Department’s Sk8-Olympics is March 1. I won’t be on the podium. With any luck, though, I’ll be able to skate around the rink as a spectator.You see, I’m learning to ice-skate. And though I feel like a 5-year-old when I’m on the ice (and skate much worse, I’m sure), I don’t qualify for the Sk8-Olympics since it’s for kids in kindergarten through fourth grade. But even if it were open to grown-ups, it’s doubtful my classmates and I from “Adult Basic” on Wednesdays at noon could win gold, or silver, or even bronze in the Games.But I can dream.

A Southern California girl, I never learned to ice-skate as a child. And nearly two decades after moving to Colorado, I still didn’t know how – until now. I decided this winter was the perfect time to learn. Well, I didn’t really decide. It’s more like I was pushed into deciding. The reason? My son, who’ll be 3 in February, is obsessed with hockey. He plays a dryland version around our living room day and night; he can’t take his eyes off the TV when a game is on; and he begs to go to the mommy-and-me skating “playgroup” at the Aspen Recreation Center every Monday. So if I’m going to be a hockey mom someday, I best be able to take the little guy to the rink – and live to tell the tale. That’s just what Aspen skating director Jenny Nelson had in mind when she and her staff created a new format for classes at the Aspen Recreation Center’s Lewis Ice Arena.

“One of our goals is to make skating instruction more accommodating to the average person,” says Nelson. “With so many things offered in Aspen, this gives people a chance to try skating classes when they can and to get out of it what they want.”It’s quite simple. Designed to work around busy schedules, the new class format allows skaters of all ages and levels to buy a punch pass and then choose how often they want to take a class – twice a month, twice a week, once a week. I’m opting for the latter, but haven’t quite managed to get there every week.It’s perfect for me – classes are drop-in (in other words, no commitment if I’m just too uncoordinated to learn); for adults only (I won’t get my butt kicked by a 4-year-old in a pretty pink skating skirt); and led by a patient and professional instructor (thank you, Jenny).

It’s also ideal for tourists, a market the Aspen Recreation Department wasn’t able to tap before the Lewis Ice Arena opened three winters ago. Previously, skating classes were offered for only one hour each week, from 4-5 p.m. on Wednesdays; in November, 11 different classes were offered at varying times on nearly every day of the week.”By opening this new ice sheet, we were really able to add to our class offerings,” explains Nelson, adding that many learn-to-skate classes are held during public skating times, on one end of the NHL-sized ice rink. “It’s opened up a lot of possibilities for new programming ideas.”Among the ideas already in motion, for young and old alike, are the new class format, which includes a Starter Class, Snowplow Sam, Pre-hockey, Basic levels 1-4, Hockey levels 1-4 and Adult Basic. The Sk8-Olympics gets kids on the ice to learn skating skills and events like bobsled, speed skating, giant slalom and curling (all on ice), and awards them for participation rather than performance. Hockey 101 is a crash course in basic hockey skating skills.

“What we’re trying to do is teach people how to skate so they can go on and enjoy the sport in whatever way they want – whether that’s figure skating or hockey, for exercise, or just so they can go with their friends or kids,” says Nelson. And that, in a nutshell, is my goal – to skate with family and friends. And after three lessons, I think I’m on my way. Dare I say I’ve come a long way? The first day, I could hardly walk across the locker room floor on those skinny blades; by my second lesson, I could confidently swizzle on both sides and with two feet (don’t ask me, it’s a skating term); and last week, I began to master gliding along on one foot! And it’s been fun, fun, fun.Which is the main goal of the Aspen Skating School. “We want to share our passion for skating with others,” says Nelson, “to help them really enjoy being out there.”

Jeanne McGovern’s e-mail address is jmcgovern@aspentimes.comFor more information:

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