Ice Skating 101

It’s 61 degrees outside, and I’m lacing up my skates for my first lesson — on the ice. You thought I was talking about roller skates, didn’t you? Well, I don’t blame you. As a former Chicago resident, I can’t believe that I’m about to go ice skating in this temperature with the sun shining and no clouds in sight. This is part of the beauty of living in Downtown Santa Monica, home to ICE at Santa Monica, the Westside’s premier outdoor ice-skating rink.

Lisa and I at ICE!
Lisa and I at ICE!

I meet up with my teacher, Lisa Capri. Her background includes 15 years skating competitively and 16 years as a figure skating instructor. I wonder if she can tell that I’m VERY nervous.

After lacing up my skates, it’s time to get on the ice. I approach the rink and immediately grab for the wall. That’s what most beginners do, right? I step one foot out onto the ice, and then I slightly panic.

“Ah, that’s slippery,” I exclaim to Lisa. “How am I going to do this?”

Lisa knows exactly what to do. She has a calming effect over me as she convinces me to come fully onto the ice. Lisa tells me to keep me head up and put my hands out in front of me (similar to a mummy walk). At first, this feels foreign and uncomfortable, and I want to be clutching that wall and looking down at my feet. Sensing that my nerves are getting the best of me, Lisa asks if I want to hold her hand for balance. Whew! That feels much better.

After following Lisa’s tips and going around the rink, Lisa says I’m ready for the next step: two-foot glide. She teaches me to get some momentum and then just glide with my feet parallel to one another. I think I’m getting the hang of ice skating!

At this point, although it’s only the beginning of the lesson, I realize how much of a workout this is on my legs. I thought I’d be chilly on the ice, but I’m definitely working up a sweat. I’m also catching on quicker than I thought I would. Lisa leads me through more new moves: dips, one-foot glide, forward swizzles (making a figure eight with your feet but staying on the outside of the eight), snowplow stop, and backward wiggles.

I want to shout at the top of my lungs “I’m ice skating!” Finally, I can see why people have so much fun with this!

As the we get into the last part of the lesson, Lisa wants to truly challenge me. She says she’s going to teach me a jump and a spin. My mind is racing, and I’m thinking, “Is she crazy? I’m a beginner!”

For the jumps, I probably only come a centimeter off the ice, but I still consider that successful. And for the spins, Lisa teaches me how to use my body weight to turn myself. I try it a few times, using the wall for support. My spins are definitely not at Olympic level. In fact, they are more like snail’s-pace spins. Still, I did it!

Confidence comes from taking risks and fighting through the fear.
Confidence comes from taking risks and fighting through the fear.

We end the lesson with hugs and high-fives and disbelief. I’m shocked that I learned a jump and a spin in my very first ice skating lesson. I never would have guessed I’d be doing those moves, but Lisa’s encouragement and instruction helped make it happen. As we leave the rink, I ask Lisa what she wants people to know about skating.

“My personal goal as a skating instructor is to give back by passing on my knowledge to others. It’s important for me to keep my lessons fun and challenging so my students enjoy it, learn new things that they can practice, and have an incentive to come back. I believe, regardless of one’s age and level, everyone is capable of learning,” she said.

To register for lessons at the Downtown Santa Monica ice rink, click here. Sign up soon, because the rink is only open until January 18, 2016. Skate lessons are offered through the Randy Gardner School of Skating, with two-time Olympian and Figure Skating World Champion Randy Gardner. So you know it’s legit!

What’s your favorite ice skating move? Share it on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #DTSM.