The recently revamped Lysander Ice Arena is opening its doors to the stars of “Nancy Kerrigan’s Halloween on Ice” during the U.S. Figure Skating Association’s Skatefest from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14.
Coaches from the Syracuse Figure Skating Club will offer free small group lessons to the first 200 patrons while professional skaters join them on the ice.
“Some of the people that are going to be in the show will be floating around,” said Erin Scherfling, SFSC secretary. “Our hope is that people will come and try … skating for free with the big stars and will be interested in joining our program.”
SFSC’s home base is located within the Lysander Ice Arena, which was purchased by Home Ice 1 LLC from the town of Lysander earlier this year. Over the summer, LIA saw many renovations, including new flooring, fresh paint, a snack bar, a restaurant and a pro shop.
“It’ll be more attractive of a venue,” Scherfling said. “They’ll have a better snack bar and a pro shop if somebody needs their skates sharpened.”
Established in 1950, the SFSC is a U.S. Figure Skating Association-sanctioned nonprofit organization that provides a place for young skaters to hone their craft and show off their talents through synchronized skating competitions and the club’s annual spring ice show. The club has three 10-member synchronized teams ranging in age from 6 to 18 years old.
Over the summer, the SFSC was able to hold a synchronized skating camp with a guest coach from New York City.
“The new owners are making sure [everything’s] working,” Scherfling said.Now that fall is here, families can sign their kids up for skating lessons. The next session begins Oct. 27.
“Our club offers skating programs for a variety of ages, abilities and levels of interest,” Scherfling said. “We offer an affordable learn-to-skate program on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings that can have anywhere from 100 to 200 participants per seven-week session. Some of our more experienced club members volunteer as assistant coaches to our highly qualified skating instructors.”
In fact, volunteering is an important part of membership in the SFSC. Skaters are required to volunteer five times per year as skate school assistants, rental room assistants or junior coaches.
“Because we have so many kids on the ice at once — especially so many little ones — we need someone to hold on … so we can reinforce what the coaches are teaching,” Scherfling said.
Family members are asked to volunteer as well, either in the music room or at the front desk to collect member information and handle ice time payments. This frees up money in the club’s budget for other activities.
“If we didn’t do that we’d have to pay someone to do it,” Scherfling said.
The Tuesday and Saturday skate school sessions include a 30-minute group lesson followed by 30 minutes of open ice time.
“It’s the most fun time for them — they can just practice and have fun with their friends on the ice,” Scherfling said.
Scherfling said many skaters hire private coaches for additional lessons in order to prepare for figure skating competitions, such as the Empire State Winter Games in Lake Placid, and local and regional contests, as well. The club offers opportunities for competitive skaters to take U.S. Figure Skating Association tests to qualify for competitions.
“Once you end up at the highest level, those are the girls that go to the Olympics,” Scherfling said.
For those who are just taking the first plunge into ice skating, the club is relatively flexible. While many SFSC members hail from Baldwinsville, Scherfling said the club is open to anyone in the greater Syracuse area.
Ice time is available every day except Monday and Wednesday, and the seven-week skate school allows for a relatively short commitment to try out figure skating.
“You don’t have to commit to the whole year like you do with, say, dance class,” Scherfling said, adding, “You can still participate in school sports and work it in around your own schedule.”
To learn more about the Syracuse Figure Skating Club and its programs, visit skatesyracuse.com.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.