Ice skating is a winter sport, right? Wrong! Summer offers the most intensive training for serious skaters. Many rinks run summer schools that include related training as well as lots of time on the ice.
Why did seventh graders Heather Mowott and Laurie Elmore of Carmel, Indiana, sign up for summer skating school? “It’s fun!” is their quick reply. Students may be local young people like Heather and Laurie at the beginning levels. Others may be advanced skaters who sometimes travel long distances to train with a specific coach. Some skating schools even offer boarding facilities.
Summer skating-school participants have all finished learn to skate programs in their local rinks. They know how to glide forward and backward, make basic turns, and execute the simplest jumps and spins. Now they are ready to polish their skills
In the summer, skaters have more time because they don’t have homework or school activities. They can push themselves to try new things without the fear that an injury will knock them out of one of the major qualifying competitions. Marie Millikan skated for Czechoslovakia in the 1968 Olympics. Now she coaches in Carmel and directs a summer-skating school. She says, “Winter is the time for maintaining skills; summer is the time for moving ahead.”
Just as in regular school, skating school has classes and tests. Besides private lessons, you may participate in group classes in basic skating, advanced step sequences, and spins. Off-ice support classes teach ballet, conditioning, sports medicine. Classes in artistry and drama help a skater learn to express the music and interpret a story on the ice.
There are eight students in Laurie and Heather’s stroking and conditioning class. “We work on speed and endurance,” says Heather, “along with posture and grace.”
Tests are given by judges of the United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA). Passing is a mark of achievement. It also means you will compete on a new level in the conning season. Heather and Laurie hope to pass the first test, called “pre-preliminary,” by the end of the summer.
The summer-school day may begin as early as six or seven in the morning, depending on what classes you sign up for. You could be at the rink all day. Most schools have the option of attending one or two weeks or staying for the entire summer.
Olivia Baer spent six hours a day on the ice for seven summers, plus office classes. The first summer, she lived with friends because her hometown didn’t have summer ice. Now she lives near a year-round rink. She has passed the senior USFSA freestyle test and competed at Nationals against the top US skaters. “In skating you can’t afford to take the summer off,” says Olivia, now 20. “Besides, I love to skate!”
You will find major training sites for elite skaters advertised in skating magazines. Most rinks that have year-around ice offer some kind of summer training. There is probably a summer skating school at a rink near you.