The Great Falls Figure Skating Club is home to a few greats, such as Misha Petkevich, Scott Davis, Kathy Casey, and Avery Bandel. These skaters are National Champions, Olympic Medalists, and Olympic Coaches.
According to the Great Falls Figure Skating Club, they are also one of the oldest Figure Skating Clubs in the nation, chartered in 1929. Since then, they have strived to make an impact for those who dream to make life on ice, a reality.
During this time of season, they host a program called "Learn to Skate," which introduces youth and adults of all abilities to various disciplines on the ice.
Assistant Director, Jill Ahlbrecht is a triple gold medalist with United Skates Figure Skating. A Colorado native, she has been coaching skating full time since 2010, and currently teaches private and semi-private lessons to all ages and skill levels.
She discussed what students can learn when they start the "Learn to Skate" program.
"In the beginning, it’s all just learning how to fall, how to get up, how to glide, how to march, how to stop, how to turn," she said. "Whether you are interested in hockey, or figure skating, or speed skating, it’s all the same in the beginning, so you start with ‘Learn to Skate’ to learn how to skate, and once you have a bigger repertoire of skills, you might find that you’re interested in one path, or another path."
She added that working with a diverse range of students is one of her favorite parts of the job.
"The students are awesome," she said. "They’re so hungry to have all the information to try new things on the ice. The little tiny kids, they like to play, but they like to get up and find some speed, and learn how to stop and run into walls sometimes. Young kids are interested in more of the details, but they like the games too. Then, we have a pretty big adult crowd too. They're interested in the technical stuff. They want to know where you are on the blade, what foot you use, what muscles you are engaged. All three are different, but they are all super rewarding."
Along with the several instructors who teach people the ins and outs of ice skating, there is 12-year-old, Josie Delorit, who's been a part of the Great Falls Figure Skating Club for four years.
She explained what got her into skating in the first place.
Delorit said, "When I was about eight years old, I saw a bunch of girls from my old clubs skating, and I was like, ‘wow, this is exactly what I want to do when I grow up.’”
While skating has long been a passion of hers, she added what she enjoys most.
"I enjoy just being part of something that’s so keen on exactly what I want to do, mindset, and life in general," she said."
Being introduced to the world of ice skating doesn’t come easy. When Jill Albrecht was asked what it takes to be successful, she says, it is all about patience and dedication.
"Our goal out here is to make things look easy, but you get on the ice and realize that it’s not that easy," Ahlbrecht said. "It involves trying things over and over again, and be willing to mess up ... The key to really making success, at least in figure skating where I am most knowledgeable, it is not taking big amounts of time off, and just sticking with it. If you love it enough, it’s not hard to do. You want to be here all the time.”
If you wish to sign up, there are spots available for session 3. January 20th is the last day to sign up.
Registration for Session 4 and their Spring Ice Show session will close on February 17th (registration for session 4 classes only will close March 10th).
Spring Ice Show, "Skating Through The Galaxy" is April 22nd from 1pm-3pm. Tickets are 10 dollars.
Great Falls Figure Skating team is heading to Billings to compete at Big Sky State Games this weekend.
For more information, contact Great Falls Figure Skating Club: 4001 29th Street SW, Great Falls, MT 59404, phone 406-866-0247; click here for the website.
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