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Breck hosts weekly adult skate club

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
Summit Daily/Reid Williams "We don't do a lot of jumping," Summit County musician Sal Mancini says, with a laugh, of his new skating club for adults. "It's more like ballroom dancing on ice."
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BRECKENRIDGE – Figure skating used to be a sport where skaters were washed up if they didn’t have their double jumps down by about age 14. Not anymore.Before Sharon Mancini moved to Dillon, she started skating in the suburbs of Chicago. Only, in 1992, the rink didn’t have an adult program, so she had to join the mom and tot program – without a tot.”I fell in love with it immediately,” Mancini said. “I love the flow on the ice and the speed, the artistry and the athleticism.”She talked her husband, Sal Mancini, into taking lessons, and the pair skated in its first adult national competition in 1997 in Lake Placid. They placed fifth out of 15.

Though Sharon Mancini learned to land single jumps, she now focuses on dance routines with her husband.The couple take their 8-year-old daughter, Jessica, to regular skating lessons, but every Sunday afternoon Jessica sits in the bleachers as her parents practice during an adult-only session at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge.The Steve started a new adult figure skating program Sept. 12. About six adults currently meet from 4-4:45 p.m. every Sunday to practice edging, dance steps, jumps and spins. Sandy Baker, a skating coach at the rink, joins the skaters and promises free basic, dance or freestyle lessons at least once a month. She also gives tips.”There’s so much for an adult to learn from this,” Sharon Mancini said. “It’s something you can do all your life. And it’s not like a public session where kids are buzzing around. The fear factor is taken away.”

Many club members hope to skate in an adult routine for the holiday ice show in December, as well as recruit about four to six more people so they can start an adult synchronized team.In the past decade, the two primary international figure skating associations – United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA) and Ice Skating Institute (ISI) – have focused on encouraging adult skaters by creating special testing programs and competitions with artistic and group categories that appeal to adults. In fact, the adult population is the fastest growing segment of the USFSA, said Jenny Kreider, a local adult skater.Kreider tests in USFSA, which adheres to more stringent requirements for skaters than the predominantly recreational ISI.”I skated a lot recreationally as a kid – lessons, shows – but I didn’t compete,” Kreider, 45, said. “I didn’t skate for 20-some years until I started skating at this rink. I came in one day during lunch, and I was just totally addicted, so I started taking lessons.”It’s a great form of exercise. It’s a feeling of freedom and expression, and it teaches you so much discipline and humility. One thing I think adults don’t understand is that they can learn to skate; it’s not as hard as it looks. Yes, it hurts when you fall, but you’re not going to break all your bones.”

And, if skaters do fall, there are cookies, or other sweets, and tea to cheer them up during the social hour after practice.”It’s very much about camaraderie,” Baker said. “Everybody needs a way to talk about their skating.”The 37-week session runs through May 22 and costs $200. For more information, call Baker at (970) 547-9974, ext. 0.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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