It all began at the Salmon Arm Fall Fair parade last year. The Salmon Arm Speed Skating Club was handing out fliers as they walked along and gave one to eight-year-old Aila Norlin.
“I got the flyer. It said ‘Learn to Speed Skate.’ I was interested right away. Sometimes when people give you flyers they’re interesting.”
Aila tried the six-week session and she was hooked.
“She loves to skate,” says her mom, Kelsey. “She loves to skate fast at the public skating so we thought it would be a good fit.”
“It’s really fun,” Aila adds with emphasis, “because you get to skate in circles and you get to go fast.”
Her love of speed plus her background in gymnastics, ballet, swimming, soccer and ringette helped her take to the sport quickly. “I’m starting to skate with the older group because I’m one of the fastest.”
After a year of taking Aila to the arena and sitting in the stands, Kelsey thought she would try it too.
“I did a bit of hockey. I enjoyed getting back on the ice but I’m terrible with the stick,” she says laughing.
Even though she used to figure skate and enjoyed family skates at the rink, trying this new sport was a little intimidating. Like Aila, she started with the six-week learn-to-skate session.
“I must admit I was nervous the first time I went out. I’ve used hockey skates the last seven years and going to long blades and the whole body position was different.”
The body position is all about staying low. The young ones sometimes go under obstacles for practice and the adults have to touch the ice as if they’re picking something up.
“I’m getting a good workout, doing a squat for 45 minutes,” says Kelsey. “It’s nice to get back in the rink instead of just watching and cheering.”
For the first three weeks Kelsey was in Aila’s class and she had to get used to the new dynamic of being teammates:
“I was just trying not to be the mother when I was in the lesson, I was trying to hold back the mother part.”
The kids thought it was great to have Kelsey practise with them, and one little girl was particularly excited to have an “adult girl” in the class. As Kelsey started getting faster, she was moved to the adult class.
“I’m enjoying it. It’s a nice group of people, very supportive and encouraging for beginners. I have a lot to learn but I haven’t had a wipeout yet.”
Aila, in the meantime, has attended three competitions and placed well, and earned ‘Most Improved’ trophy for the 2012-2013 season. Kelsey is still debating if she will get up the nerve to compete in an upcoming competition in Salmon Arm in January, but Aila has already decided that competition and speed skating will be part of her life – almost forever.
“I want to do the Olympics. I saw a picture of the Olympic circle and it looked really fun to skate on. I will probably keep skating and skating until I’m 80 or something and then retire. I will definitely retire by the time I’m 80.”
Like Aila says, speed skating is open to all ages and abilities. The Salmon Arm Ice Breakers offer a six session, learn to speed skate program. Skaters need a helmet, neck guard, shin and knee pads and leather gloves. Skates will be supplied.
To register, call Kimm at 250-804-3083, or email email@example.com.