19 August 2007

Gliding in the ice

In some countries, summer could mean swimming. But in the UAE, summer could mean ice skating.

For this, the Al Ain Mall has launched an ice-skating course that is accredited by the Ice Skating Institute of Asia (ISIA). Entitled “Frost Yourself,” the program includes 5-level skating courses for beginners, and a multi-level freestyle skating program for those skaters who are already in their advanced levels.

“Only the Al Ain Mall offers this kind of course. And the advantage here is that the parents can come, leave their children [in the rink] who want to learn how to skate, and go up and do their shopping. It is very convenient – Al Ain Mall is in the center of Al Ain, and we offer competitive prices. They would all be having a quality time,” said Maha Abusamra, Public Relations Officer of the Al Ain Mall.

The other thing that could encourage the children and the old alike to enroll for this class is that ice skating is now an international sport. “Skating became more enjoyable. Aside from that it is a good exercise from head to toe, it is now an international sport,” said Joseph Lee, Ice Skating Trainer of the Ice Skating Rink at the Al Ain Mall.

Lee who is also a karate and swimming coach is the trainer of Michael Novales, the seventh placer in the 2003 United States Figure Skating Championships, when the trainee was still in the Philippines. Novales was the first skater of that country who participated in the 2006 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

“Ice skating was just a hobby to me. When my father and grandfather died, I pursued this hobby. My first job was in Japan as a roller skate dancer and then I became an ice hockey player to one of their teams. In 1989, I came back to the Philippines. That same year, they put up an ice skating rink but nobody knows how to ice skate during that time. So I became the first Filipino who has stepped in the ice in the Philippines.”

Lee has also worked in Hong Kong, Sharjah and in Dubai after he achieved a certification in Seattle, United States. “Not all coaches can be good at skating. What is good about my experience is that I know how to skate and I know how to teach.”

“First, when you teach the young children, you should have a lot of patience. Some kids, especially those who were only forced by their parents to learn ice-skating, would not heed you. The old is also hard to teach because they do not listen and are afraid to fall. Some locals would not listen to me because they know that most Filipinos are only nannies. Some Europeans, on the other hand, are determined, and they listened to me very well. Asians are good listeners too.”

“Learning how to skate and how long it would take would depend on a trainee. If he or she is willing to learn, he or she will learn as soon as possible. But if the trainee were scared, it would take time.”

“Beginners are afraid to fall, so I teach them how to fall, which is either falling on the left butt or on the right butt. Also, they should not waggle their hands on their back because that could throw them off balance. Instead, they should just touch their knees so that when they fall, it will be on either one of their butts. But if they wave their hands, they will fall on their head or back… That is actually the secret in learning how to skate: learn how to fall down.”

“But to be a good skater, a person must have discipline. They should listen to their coach and refrain from thinking negatively; what the coach says, that is what is right and that is what they should do. If they do not follow it, then that is not the fault of the coach.”

“Skating could sharpen a person’s physical and mental ability. It can also make a person look forward to something. It can make a coach proud. Through the years, I have learned that money is not important, but for my trainee to learn well.”

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