Many of us first stumbled our way around a skating rink with a little amateur guidance and a lot of improvisation. But it's never to late to learn the proper form for gliding, turning and stopping on the ice. Fortunately The Rink at Rockefeller Center offers one-on-one instruction, so you can receive a half hour of personal training at the beginning of a 90-minute skating session.
We recently took a lesson at the Rink and came away with some handy tips. First off, we had been mistaken in our assumption that socks should be thick or doubled up for ice skating. Our instructor, Melanie Athena, told us that thin socks are best.
After lacing up, we worked on our posture, facing the railing for support. Knees should be slightly bent, and you want your weight to be on the balls of your feet. While some pieces of advice could be hard to picture (like "sitting on your toes"), Melanie was clear and congenial in explaining what to do.
When taking off, she said, you'll want to begin with "duck feet," sliding on one foot, then the other, then gliding ahead on both. "Slide, slide, glide," is the key.
Remember to look ahead as you skate and keep your arms from waving (or flailing) wildly, to better keep your balance.
One thing we'd never picked up before was the best way to turn—turning your head and bringing your opposite arm in the direction you want to go. In order to turn left, say, bring your right arm up toward the left to steer your course. To stop, you lean on one foot and angle the other, so the side of the skate scrapes the ice (a little like stopping on skis).
And perhaps most to the point—if you find yourself about to fall, put your hands on your knees to steady yourself.
So that's a little know-how for your next trip to the Rink. Still, there's nothing like learning first-hand from a pro and getting some personal attention to start things off on the right foot. Lessons are available daily from 8:30am to 5pm till April, and can be booked for one or two people. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve.