I started figure skating again and all I got was a bruised tailbone (plus a little more)

A New Year’s resolution of mine was to “do something I loved as a kid.” I toyed with the idea of taking dance lessons again, or maybe an art class. But it was the idea of figure skating that called to me.

So for five Sundays in a row, I began taking figure skating lessons again. I envisioned slow, Sunday mornings of making my coffee and a lovely breakfast, and then off to figure skate. I would wear cute workout clothes and braid my hair. How chic, how romantic! I needed something to look forward to, and this was it.

I can’t remember for certain how long I skated for but I think it was for nearly ten years, beginning in grade school and ending some time in high school. Hours were spent gliding around face-off circles until we mastered whatever move it was we were working on. I remember one coach sitting on us, so that we would go lower onto the ice when we did a shoot the duck. In my most advanced classes, we took ballet lessons for an hour before being on the ice for another hour. It was during those lessons where I was surrounded by girls tinier, more competitive, and so much better than me. That was my quitting moment.

A waltz jump was probably my most advanced skill. I never once competed. I was not that good – but I loved it. Kristi Yamaguchi, Tara Lipinski, Michelle Kawn, and Sasha Cohen were my heroes. And you couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t Michelle Trachtenberg in Ice Princess. Figure skating made me feel beautiful and powerful at the same time, unlike anything else I had ever experienced.

I didn’t know what to expect going into these classes. Would I be the oldest person there? Could I even still skate well? Does the class start at noon or 1pm? Where even is this rink (for Philadelphians, the UPenn rink can be confusing to find)??

After arriving for the first lesson and lacing up my rental skates I made my way into the rink, gingerly stepping onto the ice. I clumsily made a few laps around the rink, until I found my footing and rhythm. Almost like riding a bike.

The classes were split into two sessions – half of us would spend a half-hour free skating in the middle of the rink, while others had their lessons around us. We would then switch when the half hour was up, until it was time to free skate. I wove between kids and their parents who joined them on the ice. And to my delight, there were many other adults taking lessons.

I met Mia, who wanted to work on her balance before a ski trip to Colorado. She didn’t show up again after that class. Kim was the person I was closest with. We were both in the same group and we would chat before our lessons, finding out that we had so much in common.

I also met Josh, a Canadian whose husband didn’t love the idea of him playing hockey when they were younger. He started taking his young daughter to lessons, and in turn he discovered a newfound love of skating. He also told me he was inspired to see so many adults either taking lessons for the first time or getting back into the sport. That made me feel really good to hear.

In our first few lessons, we worked on swizzles, snowplow stops, slaloms (If there’s one thing you should know about figure skating moves, they have very fun names) and the proper way to fall on you side/hip (more on this later). By the second class, I felt ready to try skating backwards, and even throwing in some back crossovers. By the third class, I was back to doing two-foot turns, even twizzles. I was back baby.

And then the fourth class happened.

We had just completed a set of slaloms. While I can’t say it with total confidence, I think I was just standing on the ice and not really moving at all, when all of a sudden I was in the air. Before I knew it, I was soon headed for the ice below me. I don’t remember exactly what happened, all I knew was that I was falling. In my head I could hear my coach’s voice saying “fall on your side, fall on your side.” But it was too late – I hit my tailbone right onto the ice. I’m sure it looked liked I had slipped on a banana peel in an old-school cartoon.

When I opened my eyes, my coach and another coach were above me. “You’re probably seeing stars right now,” my coach said to me. That was all it took for me to begin crying. You know those moments where someone asks, “Are you ok?” and the next thing you know you’re uncontrollably sobbing? That was me, laying on the ice, with children whizzing by me. I felt embarrassed, defeated, and in a lot of pain.

I was doing so well (my coach said I could even bump up a group!), and a fall from standing still was the thing that took me out?? The universe has a sick, twisted mind.

After I was able to get off of the ice, another coach sat with me and comforted me through the tears. She even walked me to my car, and as we were about to part ways, she said “I hope this doesn’t deter you from getting back onto the ice.”

I decided not to go to the last class. My back was still in pain and honestly, I was too nervous.

I have a tendency to get very excited about starting something, but then never go through with it or complete it entirely. And while I didn’t finish these lessons in their entirety, I still stuck to my resolution.

I didn’t get to see if I could still do a waltz jump, but something tells me I’ll be back out there on the ice soon.

One response to “I started figure skating again and all I got was a bruised tailbone (plus a little more)”

  1. […] shared my experience figure skating again after a decade-long […]

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