A global sporting event usually results in at least some people being inspired to try out new activities or to return to a hobby from their youth. With the Winter Olympics now including several cool and funky disciplines like snowboarding and freestyle skiing I can imagine that there are many youngsters looking on and feeling that they might want to take up snowsports. That is fine if you live in Switzerland but perhaps not so easy in you live in Surrey!
With our temperate climate and lack of mountain terrain it can be hard to get started in Britain. There are six indoor ski slopes and several dry slopes where beginners can test the water but skiing at these centres is not exactly like taking on the downhill at Wengen! Most snow enthusiasts will be confined to one or two weeks on the white stuff during an annual holiday and that is if they are lucky. Skiing is an expensive hobby when you factor in travel and equipment and time on the indoor slopes isn’t cheap either. Many people in Britain simply wouldn’t be able to afford to ski.
There is one winter Olympic sport which is very accessible in Britain and relatively cheap too and that is Ice Skating. There are far more ice rinks than ski slopes and public sessions are one of the more affordable ways to spend a couple of hours. You don’t need any instruction or special equipment to get started and everyone from toddlers to pensioners can give the sport a try.
It has to be said that the hire skates at the rinks are somewhat less than comfortable and so if you decide to skate regularly investing in your own pair is a good move. Unlike skis and snowboards, a new pair of ice skates won’t break the bank and requires minimal maintenance. Blades need sharpening after a few sessions on the ice but you can get this done at the rinks for just a few pounds.
Skating may not be as cool as snowboarding but it is great fun, a good social activity and certainly keeps you fit. Youngsters may identify more with the bohemian boarders but surely the Olympic figure skaters can be an inspiration too. Their wonderful athleticism is something to marvel at and anyone who loves music and dance should find their routines entrancing. With skaters performing to everything from Spanish music to Michael Jackson in Sochi there has been something for everyone to enjoy. Britain has a good skating heritage and we have produced many great Olympians so if youngsters have an Olympic dream the ice rink would be a good place to start.
I love winter sports. I do ski, albeit badly, and enjoy my time on the snow when I can get it but for regular exercise without breaking the bank skating is far more convenient. I have been skating since I was 5 years old and would love to claim that I can perform the triple Axel with ease but that would be a lie! In any case that isn’t the point. Winter sports are fun and great for fitness. It doesn’t matter what your skill set is as long as you enjoy the activity and skating is something that anyone can afford to have a go at.
Article by Sally Stacey