There are few sights in sport as beautiful as watching a figure skater glide across the ice with both majestic grace and breathtaking speed, before launching into a Lutz jump that ends in a perfect landing. So how easy is it to pick up? Can you or I head down to the nearest ice rink and begin practising our Salchows and double Axels?
The short answer is, well, no. Not unless you’re already a pretty good skater. Before you can even think about emulating the moves perfected by current world figure skating pairs champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, you must have already logged weeks of training.
Want some inspiration? Pockets of adult figure skaters can be found showing off their skills at ice rinks in The Dubai Mall, Al Nasr Leisureland and at the Hyatt Regency in Deira, and the number is growing, according to Gordon Kirk, general manager of Dubai Ice Rink at The Dubai Mall. ‘There are not a huge number of figure skaters in Dubai,’ he says. ‘But more people are taking it up. It’s usually done by youngsters, typically girls. Most give it up because it takes a lot of dedication, but there are adults who have stuck with it after being bitten by the bug.’
Ice dancing, a form of figure skating performed by couples, is on the increase at the mall. The rink’s Saturday evening ‘Disco on Ice’ events are a spectacle not to be missed when skaters, many of them Emiratis, display their skills to music.
So what does it take to progress from being reasonable on the ice to becoming a skilled skater? ‘Figure skating is more advanced than regular skating,’ says Gordon. ‘It requires balance and coordination, poise, posture and rhythm. There are a lot of jumps and glides. Most people would be able to figure skate if they put in the practice, but you have to be serious about it.’
Budding figure skaters at Dubai Ice Rink must have reached level five in the rink’s Learn-To-Skate programme, which takes five months of coaching. They must then book a ‘patch’ on the ice, which is separate from regular sessions, when the rink is not so busy. The coaches then teach them the jumps, spins and lifts that make up the Olympic sport.
Figure skating coaching times and prices vary – contact the individual rinks for details. Dubai Ice Rink, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Burj Khalifa (04 437 3111); Hyatt Regency Dubai, Deira, (04 209 1234); Al Nasr Leisureland, Oud Metha (04 337 1234)
Ice skating tips from the pros click here to view