I’m a native Washingtonian and ice skating wasn’t a regular part of my upbringing. Ice rinks seemed so distant and foreign to me, but skating occasionally caught my attention while growing up.
When I was 7 years old, the 1996 Olympics were on TV. The female ice skaters looked so graceful and beautiful while they were performing feats in sparkly outfits and very visible makeup, things that seemed rare in the world of sports. A few years later, a website made available an online game in which players could try to make animated figure skaters perform specific moves; doing so with grace and poise using a computer mouse was not very easy.
As a number of ice rinks have made their home in the District, trying out my luck on the ice came into the realm of possibility. However, the idea of putting my feet on the ice was a terrifying thought given my previous experiences trying to walk on concrete that had ice on it.
I watched a few instructional videos on YouTube, which helped me get a sense of how I should approach the ice rink. Reminding myself that this is supposed to be a fun experience gave me the courage to proceed.
Thankfully, at the ice skating rink at Washington Harbour, the staff really knew what they were doing and made me, a first-time ice skater, feel at ease. I learned that it is important to get the right size for one’s ice skates. Other issues of importance included needing to lace up those skates fairly tightly and to tie the laces while sitting on a bench instead of while standing up.
Walking to the ice rink on ice skates on was a balancing act, as though I were on a bicycle, but the skates proved solid enough so that the trek wasn’t extremely challenging. What was challenging, though, was the leap from normal terrain towards the icy floor. Having never ice skated before, the fear of falling was readily present. Standing on the ice, however, I managed to find a way to stand still without wobbling all over the place.
So I’m off to a good start here. The next thing was to try to apply the lessons I learned online and actually move my feet, if possible. The result was a stark reminder of what my life was like as a baby, before I learned to walk without any assistance. The story goes that after I learned how to crawl, I would walk with a toy shopping cart. Then, one day, my older sister encouraged me to let go of the cart and walk on my own.
While I could not freely skate around the ice rink without losing my balance, at least I could depend on a penguin object for support during my first time circling the rink. I depended upon the walls during the second time.
Without a doubt, it takes practice to ice skate. Age doesn’t matter a lot: a child might skate without a hitch, while an older person might be skating around in a wobbly way — or vice-versa. But there is room in Washington, D.C., for ice skating as an activity, even for me.