You’ll receive skating tips and practice teamwork during these sessions.
MY SYNCHRONIZED SKATING partner looked at me sideways. She was at most 8 years old, with dark hair and eyes. Her head barely reached my shoulder, and I’m almost certain she gave me the side eye. I’m sure she wanted to skate with her friends, not a weird adult skating with a bunch of kids.
We were partnered up to practice moving in a block for a synchronized skating class open to the public at Highland Ice Arena. The average age was probably 7, although a couple older skaters were around my height.
Despite the age gap, I was at home. I grew up at an ice arena, getting up early for private lessons and practice and going again after school for drill team, now known as synchronized skating. Seattle has competitive synchronized skating teams, both adult and kids, and the Highland class is designed to give skaters basic skills and a show at the end of the session.
Highland Ice Arena
I was quite familiar with my sassy partner. I grew up with girls like her, with her bedazzled black leggings, her confident skating skills and an attitude like she owned the ice. In fact, I probably was her — back in the day.
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As we skated, however, slowly doing half circles with each foot (a half swizzle, in skating parlance) and trying to stay within an arm’s length of our partners and the people in front of us, her cool demeanor broke. She smiled occasionally, determined to stay up to speed as we counted aloud: “1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8.”
We worked moving as a block of skaters for a few turns around the ice before moving on to circles. We stood in a circle, hands behind our backs to prevent any shenanigans, listening to teachers Marie and Rebecca explain how to turn our heads without turning our bodies — keep your skates pointed in and turn your head to the side, they coached.
We learned how to hold hands — right thumb up, left thumb down — and worked on half swizzling in a circle together. It is hard to keep your pace steady when accommodating more than a dozen other skaters, particularly when your legs are longer than theirs.
Our next goal was to form a line and keep it straight as we skated across the ice. This proved harder than the circle. Despite lining up, holding each others’ shoulders, and turning our heads to the side to try to keep the line straight, it was raggedy at best.
We tried to do two shorter lines in a row, to no avail. Sometimes a skater fell, and our lines did not recover.
So when Marie and Rebecca announced we were going to work on an intersection — two lines facing each other and skating through each other — I thought we were destined for disaster.
But the intersection proved far easier than skating in a straight line.
The teachers lined us up, told us which people we were skating between. Marie started the count, “and 5-6, 7-8.” We swizzled across the ice for 8-counts, brought our hands down to our sides, glided through and then grabbed hold of each others’ shoulders again. We did this several times, successfully. It was amazing.
At the end of class, Rebecca played a song that the skaters will hear on repeat as they memorize moves for the show. At the end of class, I was a little envious when kids ran off to try sizes for their red ice-skating dresses.
I remember my ice-skating days fondly, though I forgot about frozen toes. And I’m glad to know I could make my skating team days a reality again with synchronized skating.