During Covid-19 and this time of self-isolation, most ice skaters have wished more than anything to get back on the ice. Some ice skating rinks are opening, but with some restrictions.
I have found it rather complicated to just skate for fun, but on Thursday, June 25, I decided to pay online and in advance and reserve a spot on a freestyle at Big Bear Ice Arena in Denver. My son Joel, who has been laid off due to Covid-19 from Disney On Ice joined me.
What we experienced at Big Bear Ice Arena was more than delightful and I just have to write about it!
The rink itself is amazing since there are two ice sheets and the building is huge. The management has set guidelines for social distancing, so every skater is assigned a locker room and masks are required until skaters enter the actual ice sheet to skate.
We were delighted to have the entire ice sheet to ourselves at first and then only one other skater and her coach joined us. Our interaction with that coach, Jill Mintz, turned just an ordinary day of skating into an absolute treat since Jill asked if we wanted to stay after the freestyle for a private ice session she had set up for “her team.” I didn’t know what “her team” was, but Jill’s invite was hard to pass up.
As the hour long freestyle went on, my son Joel and I had so much fun! Joel made himself busy doing jumps and spins, but also her worked on edge moves including what has become his trademark move, The Candeliever, where in a bent spread eagle position, he leans all the way back. He also did some incredible spread eagles.
At first, I busied myself with school figures and did some of the original figures that the World Figure Society has created, but soon, I was joining Joel in edge moves I learned from Ice Theatre of New York‘s online edge classes and with some of the exercises Joel did during “Class” in the ice show.
I couldn’t resist doing some shoot-the-ducks and that was when Jill asked me to do my favorite shoot-the-duck game with “her team” during the upcoming private ice session. I had no idea then how fun Jill’s private ice was going to be.
The fun began when Jill asked me to warm up her group of skaters with some basic stroking and swizzle exercises followed by my shoot-the-duck contest! The way my contest works is that skaters skate around the rink as fast as they can and then after I yell “shoot-the-duck!” all the skaters go down into the shoot the duck position (which is a squatting position with one foot shooting out in front) and the skater that stays on one foot the longest wins.
Next Jill asked me to show “her team” some ice dancing basics. I started the skaters with chasses, a move where a skater strokes forward on an outside edge for a count of two, then changes feet by lifting up the former skating foot and holding an inside edge for one beat. We learned the steps of a roller skating pattern dance called the Glide Waltz next, but I realized just doing chasses for kids was and is kind of boring, so I got creative and got the kids to do some solo free dance moves which included a move Joel calls “The Antoine” named after a skater in Disney On Ice who did the move in ice hockey skates. “The Antoine” is really an edge move done in a back spiral position with the free leg bent and leaning out to the side. We put “The Antoine” together with some chasses and a forward pivot from a hockey glide and I think the kids really liked that creative part of ice dancing.
Finally, Jill broke up the skaters into three groups. One coach worked with a group on choreography, another worked with a group on spins, and Jill’s group, with Joel and I assisting, worked on creative edge moves which included spread eagles, bauers, spirals, lunges, and hydroblading. What a blast that was!
During the entire time Jill was taking photos and got one of me doing a fairly decent hydroblading move at the rail. Some of Jill’s skaters were incredibly talented and did incredible spread eagles and hydroblading moves!
A few days later, I had a chance to learn about Jill Mintz’s love of skating. It turns out she skated as a child, but when she was a young teen, her father died suddenly. That changed the course of Jill’s skating life since there was just no money to pay for skating. During college, she got to skate again since the college students skated free of charge at the ice rink on campus; being on the ice again renewed her ice skating joy. After college, Jill had a chance for a job in the media, but she really wanted to skate, so that is what she did! She loves skating so much and wants everyone she meets and teaches to love it too. Her enthusiasm is infectious since she has created a group of skaters that love skating!
The words “Ice Skating Is Fun” and “Happy Skating” described my afternoon at Big Bear Ice Arena and with Jill Mintz’s Lace’Em Up Skating!
JO ANN Schneider Farris
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