Michaela Andrusko, learn to skate program instructor

When most people think of ice skating, they think hockey or figure skating– but to many, it is a way to build confidence, muscle, and lifelong skills.

Developing those skills is the goal of the Learn to Skate Program at the John Breslow Ice Hockey Center. The program offers a variety of programs, ranging from first-time beginners to advanced skaters wanting to perfect their skills.

Michaela Andrusko has been an instructor for the program for about two years and believes skating is one of the most essential winter activities.

According to Andrusko, the most significant motivator for people who want to learn to skate is the excitement of trying something new. Then, once they get through the door, they experience the excitement of the first time they put on a pair of skates and then the laughter that follows the eventual first fall.

“I remember when I first started skating, I think I was down on the ice more than I was standing up,” Andrusko said. “It’s part of the learning process.”

Andrusko also said that once a person feels accomplished from learning to skate, there is even more drive to continue with the skill. The consistent schedule, the prospect of advancement, and the enjoyment that come with skating are what make it so beneficial.

It is also known to increase confidence both on and off the ice. The instructors teach skills to build confidence while ice skating that easily transfers to real-world situations.

The program attracts people of all ages, starting from the age of 3.

Emma Gay, the skating director at the John Breslow Ice Hockey Center, said she encourages everyone to learn to skate, regardless of their age or skating background.

“There was one day when one of our adult coaches was asking her adult students why they came,” she said. “A lot of them just said it’s something they’ve always wanted to do, they’ve always wanted to try it, they saw it on tv, and it looked pretty cool, or they wanted to skate with their kid.”

With the excitement surrounding the Winter Olympics–and the recent gold medal from the U.S.–the number of beginners that have come to the Breslow wanting to try the difficult sport has increased tenfold.

“All these people watch the Olympics, they see how cool it looks, and they want to try it,” Andrusko said. “Figure skating is definitely the top winter sport.”

Andrusko also mentioned a plus side to learning to skate was being able to pick out some of the technical moves during the Olympic events.

“I love being able to critique them, from my couch, but still being able to know what is going on,” she said.

Andrusko has not yet coached a season following the Winter Olympics but hopes it encourages more people to come and learn. No one has to acquire the skills of the top figure skaters, but tackling even the most basic skills is a step in the right direction.

No matter the reasoning for wanting to learn, Gay, Andrusko, and the Learn to Skate program at the Breslow encourages everyone to come and try it at least once.

The program is open for all ages above 3 and all skill levels.

The child beginner classes, called Snowplow Sam, cater to children age 6 and younger. It focuses on teaching the ABCs of skating – agility, balance, coordination, and speed.

The next advancement is basic skills levels one through six. Levels one and two are for beginners, while levels three through six focus on more technical skills like advanced stops and movements.

Free skate then focuses on mastering individual skills. These are more geared towards advanced skaters, as they teach skills like jumps and spins.

The final category is the adult beginner to advanced classes. These are for adults looking to start from the beginning or become more comfortable with specific skills.

The next Learn to Skate session held at the John Breslow Ice Hockey Center opened up on Mar. 3 and runs until Apr. 30.

Ice skating is within reach for anyone who wants to learn. It’s as easy as renting a pair of ice skates and stepping into the Breslow. Just be prepared for the chilling blast of air that greets you.