Supportive friends, falling both part of learning how to ice skate


Eric Ariel L. Salas

I am blessed to have the best friends in the world. I find consolation, boosting support and cheer when I am with them. Proof: they helped me the countless times I fell, cheered for me when they saw me about to quit and pushed me to the limit so I would learn how to skate on ice.

This past weekend, I had a conversation with a friend about going to the ice skating center again. She wants to learn how to skate, so I told her the story of the day I finally set foot on an ice-skating rink. Coming from a tropical country where ice is more associated with shakes, ice cream and ice candy (ice water in plastic pouches) rather than snow, ice-skating is the least likely topic of conversation among friends. Thus, my knowledge of the sport is way below amateur level.

On my first try, it was crowded at the Larson Ice Center. The first thing I noticed was that I was not the only soul whose ice skating skills sucked. Thank God for the little kids and a couple of adults who saved me from becoming a laughingstock.

The inexperienced skaters shared the sidebars with me. While almost everyone was gliding and sliding and turning and spinning and even moon-walking, I was at the sides, praying not to fall, taking a few steps at a time and wondering how to continue inching forward. My friends threw in some tips such as falling forward and not backward and how to execute the proper footwork on the ice.

It was not fun at the beginning, believe me. The moment you put your feet on the ice, you feel like you’re going to slide down to the other end, and you could only wish the ice were rough enough or your pair of skates had spikes to keep you still.

I waited for the guts to rise above my head in order to brave the center of the rink, which was dominated by professional skaters. In one instance, I said bye-bye to the railings, and as expected, I fell on my back at the first attempt. Falling was part of the education process!

When I thought it was time to finally defy friction, I moved at a snail’s pace towards the center while everyone just whooshed past me. There were mixed emotions, mostly scary what-ifs. What if I fall in the middle of these high-speed skaters? What if they could not stop and accidentally hit my head with their razor-sharp skates? What if someone would playfully touch and tease me and distract my concentration? What if I reached the middle of the rink and could not go back to the sides?

The fear escalated even more when a guy fell on his back, bumped his head on the hard ice and was helped by medics who carried him out of the arena in a stretcher with a neck support for possible head and neck injuries. Now, imagine how frightening that scene was for a first-time skater like me!

My friends were very comfortable and confident on the slippery ice. Their confidence intensified my determination to learn the tricks. I freed myself from the hold and reached the middle of the rink. It wasn’t effortless. No, it was not as easy as writing a story or column for The Collegian.

Since the first day I tried ice skating, I have been to the Larson arena four more times. It is fulfilling to know that I am improving on the ice. At least now, I am able to balance without someone helping me – and I also know how to glide without looking down.

For international students who want to try something new, try ice skating. Larson Ice Center will probably open in a month or two.

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