Youngsters grasp skating fundamentals

Instructor Katie Chicotel catches young skater just before he falls.

Learning to skate

On Sunday  afternoon I walked to the Ice Arena to observe the Learn to Skate class. The 3:00 p.m. class was designed for beginner skaters ages five to seven. In this class, participants were introduced to skating fundamentals such as balance, forward and backward skating, and stopping. The second class at 3:30 p.m. introduced the same basic skills for skaters eight to 16 years old.

The Learn to Skate classes are designed to give eager skaters a solid foundation of skills to use at their disposal. Participants have a variety of options to choose from after developing a strong understanding of the basics. Skaters can choose to engage in competitive ice sports like figure skating and ice hockey or they may decide to simply enjoy what they’ve learned while skating recreationally. Either way, skating is a great opportunity for participants to get fit and have fun.

Karissa Matson, Northen Michigan University senior and  Ice Arena Intern, said, ”The best part of Learn to Skate, is when people realize that ice skating has changed from a dream to a hobby.”

The first class began with a meet-and-greet in the middle of the rink. The intructors were enthusiastic in their introductions which ultimately created a ripple effect in the children’s excitement. After they were properly introduced, the intructors split the group of young skaters into two segments: backward skating, balance and stopping and forward skating, balance and stopping.

The second class was also a beginners skate but was for older children. The class’s routine was identical to the first class’s with the meet-and-greet and class division. What I saw in this class, however, gave me a newfound and richer appreciation for the Learn to Skate classes. The eldest skater was nearing his teen years and it was his first time on the ice. He looked bashful at first because the other skaters were more experienced than him but the instructors immediately responded to the situation. One instructor gripped the boy around the shoulders and enthusiastically introduced him as a new skater to the rest of the class. Then one instructor guided the rest of the class away as the other stayed behind with the young man for some one-on-one coaching.

The instructor, Katie Chicotel, 20, American Culture Studies major, was very patient with the new skater and kept giving him tips and words of

Instructors and students gather in the middle of the rink before class begins.

encouragement as he made his way around the rink. It was, I’m sure, a great experience for the boy, but it was for me as well. Granted I was only observing the class but it made me smile watching him learn to skate for the first time. And most importantly, he was given instant support by the instructors and class which makes for a great first-ever skate.

There is obviously a common love and desire to be on the ice among pupils and instructors. Chicotel’s love for skating began when she was eight years old and she has been on the ice ever since. She has been a Learn to Skate instructor for the past four years. Her passion for the sport itself and her belief that interested young children can keep the sport thriving inspired her to become an instructor. Moreover, she said skating is just plain healthy.

“Skating is beneficial to children mostly because it it fun and they have a blast learning new tricks on the ice. Not only do kids love it but skating is great exercise and a good way for children to build strong, healthy bodies.” said Chicotel.

Anyone interested in enrolling themselves or their children in Learn to Skate classes should call Laura Dunn, Ice Arena Assistant Director, at 419-372-8686 or e-mail her at for more information. Also, check out the department’s website for scheduling, class description, and registration information.


About the Blogger

Hi everyone! My name is Shena Stayden. I am a senior majoring in public relations and I am due to graduate in May. I am the      new public relations intern for the department and this is my first blog! Your feedback is warmly welcomed and I look  forward to  reading your comments.

5,630 thoughts on “Youngsters grasp skating fundamentals

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