Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Your Thoughts #3 - Ice Skating as a Sport

Dumpling and I took up Ice Skating some time in April this year and we have been having loads of fun. What I also find interesting is when friends question the practicality of indulging in such a sport and ask me "Why this sport? This is Singapore you know? Where can you go with such a sport?"

So I reached out to Richard Rowlands, Manager of The Rink at JCube and posed some of these questions to him. :)
Me: I understand that you were a former figure skater who represented UK. Singapore, being a temperate country, is certainly not known for winter sports. What are your thoughts on the local ice skating scene?
I started skating at the age of 8 years old after watching the winter Olympics on television. I convinced my parents to take me skating and they signed me up for the Learn-To-Skate courses in Cardiff ice rink in Wales. I started with once a week Learn-To-skate classes.  As my interest grew and ability improved, the number of days I skated increased from one day a week to two, and continued to grow to six days a week at the peak of my skating career. I had competed at British championships in the pairs discipline with my partner from 1997.  We went on to win the British championships in 1999 and represented Great Britain at the Junior World Championships in 2000 and 2001 held in Germany and Bulgaria respectively.
At The Rink at JCube, one of our aims is to nurture the community interest though the Learn-to-Skate classes and grow the talent in Singapore for the present and the future of all ice sporting activities, including figure skating, speed skating and ice hockey.  The Rink at JCube had the privilege of hosting the Singapore National Championships for the last two years and we have witnessed some amazing talents from the figure skating and speed skating community. During the National Championships, I watched the development skaters and the national team making good progress and saw them competing internationally for their country, which is an honor to any athlete.
Me: Many parents whom I have spoken to feel that there may not be much progression for their children in this winter sport. What are your thoughts on this? 
One of our aims at The Rink at JCube is to grow the mass participation of ice skating through our community activities and Learn-to-Skate classes called SKATESTAR, a syllabus developed with Singapore Ice Skating Association (SISA) and approved by Sport Singapore. There are different levels of "progression", for e.g. Learn-to-Skate (a group lesson with other skaters of a similar age) spans across 4 basic levels. The next progression will be to choose the ice sporting discipline they wish to pursue – such as figure skating, speed skating or ice hockey – to progress further and eventually joining the National Sports Association (NSA). 
Me: For parents with children who are keen, what are 3 - 5 tips you can share on starting their children in these?
My top five tips for parents are:

:: Bring your children to a public skating session and get them onto the ice to gauge their interest.

For skaters under 10 years old, renting a skating aid (e.g. penguin show below) is the best way to get started as it will help the skater achieve the correct skating stance. Not to worry if your child is over 10 years old as a seal skating aid is also available for rental.

:: Join skating classes.

At The Rink, the programme we have is "Learn-to-Skate" which is a great way to introduce children to ice skating and the different ice sporting disciplines. Besides acquiring the technical skills required, the classes a great way for the children to meet other skaters of similar age and ability. Parents will also get to familiarise themselves with the operations of The Rink, as well as the coaches if your child would like to pursue lessons at an accelerated speed.

:: Purchase a good pair of ice skates.
Rental ice skates are great for recreational skaters. To advance further, a pair of your own skates will help accelerate your progression through the elements. 

:: Practise, practise, practise.
Always take advantage of the practice sessions after the classes to master the skills that have been learnt during the classes.
:: Take advantage of promotions.
At the moment, we are running a student discount, which entitles students to skate every day for three months for as little as $100.
Finally, tip number 6 (an additional tip : ), please ask any of our crew if you have any questions or if you would simply like some advice. Our crew and I will be more than happy to assist.    

Me: Are there any myths which you wish to debunk? 
The one myth that we hope to debunk is that skating is an extreme or dangerous sport. Recreational skating is fun and unlike most sporting activities, it is a low impact sport that emphasises motoring skills. It is also a form of cardiovascular exercise – a good alternative for those adverse to visiting the gym. Ice skating is a great stress reliever and as much as 600 to 800 calories can be burnt per hour.    
About Richard Rowlands

Richard is the Manager of The Rink located at JCube, Singapore’s first and only Olympic-size ice rink that is owned by Sport Singapore (formerly known as Singapore Sports Council) and managed by CapitaMalls Asia.  

Richard has been based in Singapore for the last two years where prior to this, he operated ice rinks in India, Dubai and portable ice rinks around the United Kingdom.

(Richard above, with his crew at The Rink)

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  1. I miss to have Richard manage the rink actually. I feel like he did a good job making sure things run smoothly. He is really knowledgeable about the technical and technological side of things in ice skating (like maintenance, regulating skaters, etc etc). The new management is in my opinion rather iffy

  2. I have not been to the rink for a while and was back last month and yes, I was quite disappointed to see that Richard has left. I had an incident with a staff over the coffee vending machine which was really silly.


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