Skating at Cornell

I took figure skating lessons in elementary school. I remember being okay at it but loving every single second, and wanting to learn everything. By the time my mom convinced me to quit, I had my crossovers and outside 3-turns.

When I got to Cornell, friends recommended various classes to me, and I was eager to try out quite a few, including ice skating. We have a beautiful rink that has open skating quite often, which makes taking ice skating classes a nice investment.

I took my first ice skating class (beginner’s) at Cornell junior fall and realized how much of my fundamentals were incorrect or malformed. It was a process to unlearn the bad habits, to be comfortable with doing different things besides my trusty 3-turns, and to pay attention to what the rest of my body was doing besides my legs.

The semester after I took Intro to Hockey with friends. It was hard to adjust to the feel of hockey skates (less ankle support, wider), the padding equipment (heavy, smelly), the helmet that squeezed my head the wrong way, and the stick. But the carefree nature of the class and of the drills, combined with the confidence of being covered in pads, was wonderful. I felt like I was capable as a skater even when I didn’t know any of the rules of hockey, much less how to successfully carry and wield a big stick. It was fun to practice shooting goals, of chasing people down the rink and the occasional (very occasional) successful pass. I must say, I have a lot of respect for our men and women who do this so expertly all the time.

Senior fall I took intermediate skating. This was a class covering a lot of new material in not much time. I was frequently missing because of interview travel, so new skills were harder to develop without consistent practice. It was a very exciting time though – I learned the salchow, the toe-loop, and the beginning of the loop and lutz. We covered more spin technique, inside 3-turns, figures, and some ice dancing.

This semester, I took the final installment of figure skating classes. Due to the rink’s early closing, intermediate and advanced were combined, so the curriculum was an interesting mix of what I had learned the previous semester and new information. This was good, though – I certainly needed the review. We covered everything from last semester, plus flips, forward and backward pulls, power 3’s, 3-turn crossover combo, forward and backward “shuffling”/”catwalking”,  sit spins, camel spins, and scratch spins. I attended the beginner class now and then for more practice, learning extra things such as backwards 3-turns. This semester I bought an ice skating book recommended by my instructor, and I finally got the concept of inside and outside front and back edges on both the left and right. I also got new skates this semester, which presented itself first as an obstacle during the breaking-in process, but now is an asset.

But now, our beloved Lynah Rink is closed for construction. They’ve removed the ice, leaving a barren concrete belly beneath. There’s not going to be any more skating this semester on this campus.

I’m going to appreciate sleeping in more without skating class (it was at 9am), but a larger part of me yearns for the next opportunity to skate again, to skate endlessly in circles, feeling the wind bite, the sturdiness of ice under my blades, the blur of faces around me as I run away and towards everything. When I skate, I leave my troubles where I leave my shoes – on some bench outside, where it doesn’t matter.

Thanks goodness NYC has a lot of rinks.

Also, a huge shoutout to L for being my instructor for all 3 of my figure skating classes! You’re an amazing teacher, and I’m going to miss your funny and effective coaching.


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