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Once around the rink

 Posted: 2:00 AM January 14, 2013

My mom was trying to be encouraging this week. I don't remember why I was in a funk, but I was spending a lot of time on my mom's couch being grumpy. The real reason was probably because my sister was visiting and that always makes me feel short and inadequate.

My sister is tall (at least by my standards, since she towers a good four or five inches above me), graceful and smart. I have never been described as graceful; in fact, I once caught sight of myself in the mirror while attempting to take a dance aerobics class and it made me laugh so hard I had to sit the rest of the class out.

My mom told me, in a bright, encouraging tone, "Zoe, you could be good at anything; you just have to work at it! Except ice skating "… I don't think you could ever be good at ice skating."

I'm not sure why she picked ice skating as my one unaccomplishable goal. I'm sure there are actually many things that I could work hard at and never be very good at, such as being an astronaut, painting and field hockey. Or even worse, trying to do all three things at the same time, while ice skating.

Mom quickly amended her statement. "Well, I'm sure you could learn to ice skate, I'm just saying you'll probably never be on an Olympic level." I guess Mom is already thinking ahead to the 2014 Sochi, Russia, Winter Olympics. I had to remind my mom that I would probably never be appearing as an Olympic athlete in any sport, let alone ice skating. I do find the nude-colored ice skates that many of the athletes wear fascinating, though.

It's true that I'm not a very good ice skater. I don't think I'm incapable of learning to ice skate better (though I don't see any triple axles in my future), but I'm terrified of falling down on the ice. Falling down at the ice rink requires me to awkwardly try to get back up on my feet with an audience of other ice skaters, plus the ice is very wet and cold and hard.

I like the fact that Ashland has an ice skating rink. Personally, I find it kind of beautiful and interesting to skate there without a cover, but I understand why a roof of some kind is important. Plus a roof might make ice skating an activity option for parents even on the days that are raining or snowing.

Ashland during the winter can be a little quiet without all the Shakespeare plays and the tourists that come in with that. I love that our city put in a seasonal ice skating rink anyway. The rink is a place for locals and their friends, and a place for me to show my little cousins from Napa, Calif., that ice can stay unmelted outdoors. I remember when it first opened my friends and I would go ice skating and then go out for hot chocolate or Chai tea afterwards.

I love the idea of the ice skating rink, I love the hot chocolate with whipped cream afterwards, I love watching my son do something active and outdoors even during the cold winter months — I just hate the actual ice skating itself.

I pull myself around the rink, using all the walls, hand over hand. My feet tremble, my ankles shake, and I usually collapse with relief after one loop around the rink. My son always wants me to hold hands with him while ice skating, but I can't. I would fall, and then probably bring him down with me. This is why my graceful sister is always invited on our ice skating expeditions.

I think if the city is looking at getting a replacement roof for the rink they should also seriously look into padding it. That would make it a lot nicer than a roof would.

Zoe Abel is still working on ice skating. You can look for her at the 2014 Sochi, Russia, Olympics. Contact Zoe at

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