It’s easy to fall in love with figure skating. Skating is a beautiful and dynamic sport. And yet, it is an expensive sport. The cost of equipment, ice time, private instruction, or group lessons can add up quickly forcing parents and skaters to make sacrifices in order to pay for a sport that is widely considered to be a luxury extra-curricular activity.
During a depressed economy when families are faced with the decision of paying bills and placing food on the table, or paying for skating lessons, the choice is obvious. Skating takes a backseat. As a former competitive skater, coach Kristin Scala understands the commitment, sacrifice and work ethic required for skaters to reach their goals. She also acknowledges the importance of flexibility and innovation required of coaches and rink staff management in order to advance, promote and support the figure skating community during a challenging time.
“As a coach, you witness the economic downturn from a different perspective than that of a skater. This [teaching] is how we make a living, pay bills and survive. This is our livelihood, but skating is not a necessity. It is a luxury, and as good of a living as it can be, it can also be very difficult to be dependent on an income that is dependent on someone else’s income.” Adds Scala, “We all have to be supportive of each other in this economy, cut some slack when needed, have patience, and, above all, be innovative. While it may not be ‘good business sense’ to give things away, sometimes you take one step back in order to enable yourself to take ten steps forward.”
Scala suggests that one way rinks might be able to boost attendance in Basic Skills/Learn-to-Skate programs is to offer special promotional days where current enrolled students can bring a friend at no additional cost to “give the sport a try” in the company of a friend. The more experienced student can show off skating tricks that s/he has learned in group class, thereby enticing their companion to enroll in classes in order to learn moves and progress in the sport as well. Group lessons are less expensive that private lessons and allow students to receive proper instruction from U.S. Figure Skating coaches, make friends and interact with other skaters their own age who skate at their same skill level.
Scala addresses the importance of working together in an attempt to provide routine during trying circumstances. Skating is much more than a physical sport. It teaches life skills, such as never ever giving up when times are tough. “Life takes it turns and roller coaster rides, but for me, skating has been my constant. If I had a bad day, I skated. A good day, I skated. Even as a coach, I have rough days. But as soon as I look at the faces of my skaters, so eager to be on the ice in order to learn something, things are as they should be.”
For more information about U.S. Figure Skating’s Learn to Skate program, visit www.usfigureskating.org. You can find coach Kristin Scala teaching skaters of all ages and abilities at The Skating Edge in Harbor City.