Breckenridge Skating School reorganizes, improves |

Breckenridge Skating School reorganizes, improves

Not only are the skating lessons at Stephen C. West Ice Arena getting a new name – they’re also getting an overhaul.

What used to be referred to as Learn to Skate will be called Breckenridge Skating School to better reflect the variety of levels – from never-evers and kids who want to learn the basics so they can move onto hockey, to adults and kids who jump and spin. New sessions reflecting this change begin tonight and Tuesday evening.

“Based on feedback from our guests and our skating instructors, we felt it was time for a change in our skating programming,” said Kevin Zygulski, ice arena manager. “Our instructors were struggling with the wide range of skill level in their classes, due to our limited offerings, and in an effort to meet this challenge, we have revamped our skating school.”

The biggest challenge – and change – involves youth participants. It’s the area Zygulski and his staff felt “needed to be drilled down further to offer a better product and experience,” he said. To accomplish this, the rink now offers four levels of kids’ classes, rather than two. In addition, it offers two levels of adult classes, with a dedicated instructor (rather than one who alternates between teaching kids and adults in the same half hour session). The change allows instructors to teach a more specific set of skills, directed toward each student’s need.

Other changes include the use of cones, which delineate different instruction areas, separating tots from adults and older kids. Though the orange markers may not seem like a big deal, they make a difference in terms of organization and structure. In terms of improving customer service from the start, staff greets students, making sure kids wear a name tag and know exactly where to wait for further instruction.

“I have already seen the excitement from staff at all levels and the buy-in to the new program here at the rink, and even though we haven’t gone to all of the details of the new program, I’ve definitely seen an overall improvement in the program organization, both on and off the ice,” Zygulski said.

Not everyone realizes the benefit of skating, whether it’s figure or hockey, because it’s often considered a nontraditional sport, Zygulski said. He enrolled his young daughter because he considers it to be a “lifetime activity” that children can start as soon as they can walk and continue through adulthood. Skating improves balance, flexibility, fine motor skills and overall physical conditioning, said Jenise Jensen, administrative services manager at the recreation center, who also served on the Ice Skating Institute board for 10 years. It’s even an event at the Summit County 50+ Winter Games.

“It is considered by many the fastest and most graceful sport on two feet,” Zygulski said. “I also believe that the skating world helps teach life lessons, such as respect, discipline and time management. If a child wants to take their skating to the next level – it does not matter if it is hockey or figure skating – they must be willing to train and be at the rink early in the morning, or on weekends or outside in cold conditions.”

Jenise believes discipline learned in skating carries over to other aspects of kids’ lives, such as academics and other sports.

But beyond life skills, the foundation of skating lies in the fact that it’s just plain fun.

“It does not matter if you are a recreational skater or a competitive skater; make sure you enjoy every time you lace up your skates and step on the ice,” Zygulski said, pointing out that not all areas in the nation have ice rinks. “It is a privilege, not a right.”

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