It’s remarkable how you can be in a place where you know practically no one, skate for a few hours, and then emerge with friends with whom you feel instantly at home.
I’ll start by saying that I have mainly been off the ice. Work has kept me busy most days, and towards the end of the week I started feeling really restless and had trouble sleeping (though it might have been all that dark chocolate I was consuming in an effort to soothe my ice-deprived soul).
So having heard a rumor that the renovation at Queens Ice and Bowl did not, in fact, close down the rink, I went there after work on Thursday. Lo and behold, the ice was packed with kids (it’s a school half-term holiday, evidently). I did get a copy of the schedule, which indicated an “ice dance club” session that evening. So I returned in the evening, got back on the ice with a few very friendly skaters, enjoyed doing a few preliminary dances with Steve, a friendly dance club member, and then, a brief twenty minutes later, was told to get off the ice for resurfacing. That was the end of the session.
Now I am not against ice cuts by any means. It seems like they really let the ice surface erode to the bitter end here, which means that the ice dancers were all skating on really really rough post-public session ice. No one seems to bat an eyelash around here when the ice starts to feel like a field of a’a lava (that’s when a lava flow cools quickly and there are lots of sharp and jagged pieces ready to cut anyone silly enough to walk on them).
But twenty minutes is a very short amount of time to skate after schlepping out to the rink twice in one day. I thought about just bagging any more efforts at skating for the rest of my time here, and instead staying home to watch the telly. But I hung around to watch some of the adult lessons just long enough to resolve to come back in the morning. Since the plucky figure skaters I’ve seen here put up with a half-size rink, crowded public sessions, inconsistent schedules, and rough ice, who am I to be an ice diva?
I am really glad I came back, because the next morning at Queens there was not only much better ice, but also a great group of adult skaters. Several of them were clearly good friends with one another, and asked me to take their picture.
What a lovely crew! Shihoko came up and introduced herself, and I wound up having a really enjoyable lunch with her, Amy, and Roland after the session. And Shihoko showed me the friendly skate shop a short walk away from the rink.
Shihoko and Amy have both been skating only a relatively short time (three and four years, respectively, which is not a very long time in skating years). They both look great! Shihoko is doing her first competition in two weeks, at the International Adult Figure Skating Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany. Amy showed me a beautiful picture of her last competition at Alexandra Palace. Roland skated as a young lad, and then took it up again a few years ago. He has competed as well in the ISU Adult International Competition and the US Adult Nationals in artistic, singles, dance, and pairs. He also does cross-country skiing long-distance races. Whew!
Just listening to them talk about their energetic lives–and all the skating they’ve done all over the world–was inspiring.
Roland and I were back at Queens this morning for the 8 a.m. public session that was advertised on the schedule, only to confront an angry man (not the manager, not sure what authority he had) who told us to get off the ice because there was not a session after all. But how is one to know? At any rate, I got to hear more about Roland’s skating over our compensatory coffee; it was a lot of fun watching video of his new programs and hearing about all the different coaches and choreographers that he has worked with.
Making some new skating friends really makes my trip here extra special. Here’s hoping we all skate together again!
June 5, 2016 at 8:31 am
I love our extended skating family. It is very cool how welcoming everyone is, no matter where you go. Glad you made new friends, and I hope you get to skate with them again!
June 5, 2016 at 11:59 am
I think it’s because we go round and round and round–gives us numerous chances to make eye contact. Plus adult skaters share a secret (or in my case, not-so-secret) life that they can only share with others who have similar addictions–oops, passions.
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June 6, 2016 at 6:54 am
I remember going to the grocery once after skating early in my adult “career” and marveling at all those people who had not been on the ice that day. And they didn’t even care!!!
June 6, 2016 at 6:58 am
That is so funny–and so true! Thanks for reading!
June 6, 2016 at 7:29 am
I did my learn-to-skate in Basingstoke, which had a similar leisure center. Better ice surface though. And huge–larger than US hockey rinks.
June 6, 2016 at 7:32 am
In its heyday the rink at Queens used to be quite large, I’m told, but then was cut down in size to make room for a bowling alley. Too bad! I would love to see the Basingstoke or some of the other large rinks outside of London, which I hear are quite nice. Oh well–next time around! Maybe I’ll have to do ice tourism for real someday.
June 10, 2016 at 11:27 pm
Sounds like a very frustrating schedule, I’m glad you got at least one good skate and some new friends out of the deal.
June 12, 2016 at 12:10 pm
Thanks, Mary! It was really fun to meet such committed adult skaters. It has also been hard being on and off for so long, but I think it has been good to take some time off.