“I can’t stay up!” Figure skates prove a better choice for first-time skaters.

I love to skate and got to share this passion with kids at Hartmeyer Ice Arena last week. Me and two other teachers had 14 kids from ages 5 to 10 years old. Many had never skated before. Here’s the story.

Choosing the right skates

Naturally, all the boys wanted hockey skates, since that’s what Zach, my co-teacher, was wearing.  The girls all got figure skates. I didn’t think this would matter, but it did. Turns out that the boys who had never skated could not stay up on hockey skates. John, Paul, George and Ringo (okay, I couldn’t help it), kept falling repeatedly on their hockey skates.  It really was a comedy of errors. They’d get up and fall. Get up and fall. Get up and fall. After about 15 minutes of this, I called a

time-out. I couldn’t bear to see these kids struggle so much. I told John to crawl back across the ice to avoid falling anymore. I really give these kids credit for hanging in there. What a great life lesson.

Against the advice of the attendant, who said that hockey skates were easier because of the wider blade, I had them switch to figure skates. It worked.  They all were able to stay up and at least get some enjoyment out of skating. “Hey look at me I’m doing it,” was a joyful sound to hear after watching so many falls.

Of course, the kids still did fall, but not nearly as much. An older boy, chose to stay in his hockey skates and continued to fall. That was his choice. I guess the stigma of figure skates was too much for him.

I had to remind the little boys that figure skates are not girl skates, just different kinds of skates. That said, it was nice that the figure skates were brown. It’s funny how kids automatically make assumptions about what is for girls and what is for boys.

I’m not sure why figure skates were easier, but my hunch is that the edges on the blades of figure skates helped the kids cut into the ice better. The toe picked helped them with stopping. Hockey skates have flat blades. And while I’ve never tried hockey skates, my guess is that without the edges, they require different skills to stop, start and turn. Either way, the figure skates worked and the kids went home satisfied.

In my opinion, there would be nothing worse than having kids leave so frustrated after their first time ice skating. I followed up with them later and they all said they had fun and would do it again.

We are planning future adventures to Hartmeyer and possible to outdoor rinks, weather permitting.

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