Four Years Later – My Journey as a Competitive Adult Figure Skater, Including Five Key Lessons

Former award winner and young skater Katelyn Mitchell of the Central Carolina Skating Club presenting me with a “Get Up Champion” award.

Just before turning 59 years old, I made a major decision which has greatly impacted my life for the good. As a passionate figure skating fan, I decided that I actually wanted to get off the couch and try skating for myself. (See my blog I wrote back then – “Finding a new passion at age 59.”) I bought skates, secured a coach, and began this journey. And it has given me tremendous joy.

And now I look back. Recently at my local figure skating club (The Central Carolina Skating Club) meeting, I was presented one of the inaugural “Get Up Champions” Awards processed through US Figure Skating. I was so touched by the write up my club’s officers submitted:

On behalf of the Central Carolina Skating Club Board of Governors, I nominate Stanley Kimer as a Get Up Champion. Stan is a relative newcomer to skating and our skating club, but he brings so much to the sport! It’s truly inspiring to see how he faces this challenging sport with humor, intelligence and outright joy.

I do love to entertain people while on the ice, including stripping down to a tank top to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.”

Paula McKinley (my coach) and he create skating routines that can make even a curmudgeon smile – the joy of skating and entertaining people shines through brightly. The kids welcome him when he participates in summer camp or Bridge classes with them. One little girl told me that she thinks he’s the hardest-working skater on the ice because ‘it’s so hard for him to skate!’

It’s true: skating is hard, and the ice is hard, which resulted in a fractured hip back in 2016, causing him to withdraw from the Peach Open Adult competition and delaying his passing Bronze to compete at Adult Sectionals / Nationals. He’s on the ‘Get Up’ trail again – – no spoilers on his new routine.

Stan’s a ‘lemonade for life’ kind of guy, though: since he couldn’t skate at Nationals in Wake Forest, he volunteered as an ice monitor! He also volunteers at our Club throughout the year and comes to every meeting / award event, when he’s not traveling to watch competitions or attend Champs Camp. We love playing ‘Where’s Stan?’ and finding him in the stands or group photos.

One of his vital contributions to the sport is his blog series on the theme of ‘Get Up.’ He highlighted what most adults face in skating: life gets in the way, sets you back and throws obstacles in your path. As Scott Hamilton says, ‘you just have to get up and keep going.’ Stan definitely gets up twice for every falls he takes.”

I was so honored and truly touched by this marvelous write up. Thank you, Central Carolina Skating Club!

And now for five quick key lessons:

1) Passion! There is nothing more wonderful than pursuing something you are passionate about. Getting on the ice is the favorite part of my day.

There is no place I would rather be than on the ice!

2) Support! A supportive community helps assure success. The Central Carolina Skating Club, the Adult Competitive Figure Skating Facebook group and the US Figure Skating Association are all so supportive of adult skaters, and provide frequent inspiration and assistance.

3) Coaching! Learning a difficult sport (or anything difficult) requires excellent competent teaching and coaching, and I found the perfect coach in Paula McKinley. Read my past blog on the importance of coaching.

4) Hard work! Figure Skating is not easy, especially for an old dude like me. I need to really focus and dedicate myself to the necessary hard work to grow and improve.

5) Commitment! And figure skating is a many year life-long journey. You cannot skate for a few months and then think you know it all. I will likely be learning and growing new skills for the next 20 years. And that excites me.

Again, I thank my blog readers, my coach, my skating club, my skating friends and the US Figure Skating Association for all your encouragement and support along this fantastic journey!

Yes, It Does Take a Village – My Figure Skating Journey, Part 2

With my coach Paula McKinley after competing in the Dogwood Open in Raleigh this past June.

With my coach Paula McKinley after competing in the Dogwood Open in Raleigh this past June.

This blog entry contains many links worth exploring as well as an announcement at the bottom about my next public skating appearance.

Like last year, once again I am going to earmark December as my month for writing a few more personal blog entries. Last December, I wrote about “Finding a New Passion at 59” about starting my journey to become a competitive adult figure skater. I do want to share some progress as well as some learning points.

Things are progressing along fine, and my goal is to qualify to skate in US Adult Nationals in April, 2017 when it is held for the first time in my home state of North Carolina. I will need to train rigorously and pass four different skating skills tests in front of a set of official US Figure Skating judges. And I owe a lot of my progress thus far to both a series of helpful individuals as well as a community of supportive people. Yes, it does often indeed take a village to accomplish a personal goal; I could not have gotten as far as I have without teaching, coaching, support and inspiration from others.

On the individual side, I need to thank my coach Paula McKinley. She has been extraordinarily patient with me starting with my first tentative steps of the slippery ice to progressing through various skill levels. She insists on proper technique from the start so I do not develop bad habits, and she employs the perfect mix of correction and praise. When I do something incorrectly, Paula does have me do it over and over again until I get it right, and will often demonstrate for me my incorrect skating in an exaggerated style, which of course horrifies me but also causes me to smile. And when I train hard between lessons and then demonstrate that I have indeed learned what she has taught, she is quick to give me praise and a hug. Finding a great coach who meshes with your own style and requirements is indeed critical.

I also appreciate the physical support and assistance from my off-ice flexibility coach Eileen Juric (who is nationally known ballet and dance instructor), my physical therapist Caitlyn Espy of the Trinity Wellness Center, and my massage therapist Dennie Michele from Massage Envy at North Hills (Raleigh.)

Again in 2015 I am inspired at the Dorothy Hamill Adult Fantasy Figure Skating Camp

Again in 2015 I am inspired at the Dorothy Hamill Adult Fantasy Figure Skating Camp

In addition to these individuals, I have been inspired by a host of encouraging groups. I am cheered on by the members of the Central Carolina Skating Club of Hillsborough, NC where I am coached and also the friends from the Skating Club of North Carolina, as well as at the Raleigh IcePlex and the Polar Ice House of Garner where I regularly practice. And for the past two years, I have attended the Dorothy Hamill Adult Fantasy Figure Skating Camp in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dorothy Hamill and her coaching team are fantastic with inspiring and teaching each camper, and we become a family encouraging and supporting each other.

In addition I appreciate local friends and family, many Facebook friends who are very supportive and the US Adult Competitive Figure Skaters Facebook group with its excellent conversations and advice.

Yes, I have learned that achieving a goal does take hard work, but is so much easier and enjoyable with individual and team support – it does indeed take a village, or should I even say an extended supportive global community!

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NOTE: My next skating exhibition will be at the Raleigh Iceplex, 2601 Raleigh Blvd in Raleigh, NC, Friday December 11 at 6:30PM. Admission is free!