By Tim Lemke
Nadja bends one leg low to the ground and extends the other, demonstrating one of her favorite ice skating maneuvers — the “shoot the duck.”
Then there are moves the 8-year-old is working on mastering, including spirals and switching spirals.
“My favorite move is the toe loop,” she says. “I like skating because it’s fun. There are so many figures you can do. And you can just present what’s in your heart.”
It was an August morning, and Nadja was at Columbia Ice Rink for a Freestyle II session with a coach. She’s been skating since she was four, has already won an in-house competition in Columbia, and hopes to compete at the Winter Olympics in eight years, when she is 16.
She’ll need to continue learning, practicing and improving to get there. That’s why on this day Nadja is among scores of skaters taking part in the Chesapeake Skating School’s two-week summer program at Columbia Ice Rink, an institution dating to Columbia’s early years located at 5876 Thunder Hill Road in the Oakland Mills Village Center.
Many of the skaters — which range from 3-year-olds to senior citizens — will return several times a week throughout the year. Columbia Ice Rink is open nearly year-round, except for approximately two months each summer.
Programs include group and private lessons for figure skating and ice hockey, plus a competitive youth ice hockey club, the Howard Huskies and the Columbia Figure Skating Club. There are public sessions each day as well. Columbia Ice Rink is open to everyone, with discounted rates for CA members and Columbia Cardholders. The ice rink is also available for private events and do-it-yourself parties.
Over the years, Columbia Ice Rink has seen some skaters go on to great things. Scott Dyer trained here and went on to compete at several U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and Allison Timlen competed in the most recent national championship in pairs skating.
The ice rink’s instructors include Pat Muth, who has been a fixture here since the 1970s and helps organize the annual “Nutcracker on Ice” holiday show and another show each spring. She also spends considerable time with competitive skaters who are preparing for tests of various skills.
“Skating is like life,” Muth says. “The skaters work so hard when these tests come along, and at the end of the day often have to retry. The child just has to realize that they have to work harder. Life is like that. There are times when you fall terribly, but you just brush yourself off and take a deep breath. I think that’s where they gain confidence.”
Learn to Skate: Group sessions, including programs for children as young as 3. New students learn basic skating skills, while more advanced skaters will perfect edging, jumps, and spinning techniques.
Freestyle Sessions: Featuring lessons with a coach. Sessions are available five days a week and can be purchased as a single session or in packs of as large as 30.
Stick and Puck Hockey: Instructional program for those interested in playing ice hockey. Helmet, gloves, stick, skates and puck are required. Schedule available online.
High School Hockey: For children 13 and older with intermediate skating ability, preparing them for competition on high school teams. Sessions take place Saturday from 8:35 to 9:35am
Brandon LaDue Hockey: Instructional hockey program for children ages 6 to 12.
Howard Huskies: Competitive youth ice hockey club featuring more than 300 players of all ages.
Columbia Figure Skating Club: Competitive ice skating and ice skating Shows featuring 200 skaters of all ages.
For more information, visit ColumbiaAssociation.org/icerink.