Skaters competing with pandemic for time pursuing their passion

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 12:11 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2021 at 12:14 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - From six hours a day on the ice to only six hours a week, skaters at the Champlain Valley Skating Club say they are doing their best to make the most of their limited time on the ice.

“When we got back on the ice, you could just see the joy in the skaters. They were just glad to be back on the ice doing what they love,” said Martha Harding, a coach at the skating club.

Harding says her competitive figure skaters lost two-and-a-half months of training when rinks shut down at the start of the pandemic. Normally, skaters rarely take any time off over the course of a year.

“You enjoy the ice more now, now that you’ve lost it for a while, and you find more diligence in what you do because there’s less of it,” said South Burlington High School junior Emma Cooley, who’s been skating for 10 years.

She’s finding the silver lining of it all.

“I’ve basically grown up here. It’s been an extra home for me, and not being around these people as much has been really hard. Just seeing them again is really nice,” Cooley said.

During a typical season, skaters train for competitions across the Northeast, but since most are canceled, they’re setting smaller goals they can accomplish closer to home.

“The competitive aspect of it seems to have taken a back seat, but I don’t think it’s taken the wind out of most of their sails. They definitely want to perfect what they can for themselves,” Harding said.

Club President Johnny Mendez says he worked with the state about figure skating.

“For the last ten years we’ve been living in arenas, and to see all the skaters not be able to do the sport that they love was absolutely heartbreaking. They work so hard to gain their skills and reach their goals, and to watch them not be able to do that was particularly hard,” Mendez said.

Along with six hours of in-person training, coaches also conduct Zoom lessons. Skaters have stayed close with phone calls and virtual hangouts. Harding says she’s sure they’ll bounce right back once they return to their regular routine.

“I think that you’ll see the skaters just take off. They’ll take their goals, they’ll take their ice time, and they’ll just hit the ground running,” Harding said.

In addition to temperature checks at the door, all skating members must wear masks and social distance on the ice.

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