December 2016. I’ve graduated from VCU. Moved back home. Settled in. Watched a few TV shows. Needed something new. Decided to try an anime I’d heard loads of people rave about. Figured since I liked ice skating, I’d give it a shot.Something ignited within me after watching the first episode of Yuri!!! On Ice (YOI.) I knew after seeing the beautifully illustrated movements of the characters gliding on the ice, I wanted to skate again. I wanted to rekindle everything I had learned when I was younger and become even better, just like Yuri Katsuki.
My whole family has a history with ice, but the key to this story is my dad.
Around this time of year in 1970 something, my dad and his five brothers would play hockey. They chose the sport because all but two of them were short, which meant basketball was out of the equation. Hockey became my dad’s favorite sport. Ice hockey and skating on ponds during the winter and when it turned to summer, street hockey would be the game to play. One time his folks saved enough money to send my dad to an ice hockey camp. He skated past the competition, albeit he was a few years older than all of the kids.
Fast forward two decades (ish) later when my dad, mom and I moved to Virginia. My dad, who was looking for a job, answered a want ad for a Zamboni driver for the local ice rink. He figured since he had grown up playing hockey, he had as good a chance as anyone else. This job changed our lives. It didn’t change our lives in the way money could, where we’d buy a summer home on Martha’s Vineyard. But it did provide us with experiences most families might not get.
Knowing how to operate a Zam, my dad has opened doors to skating summer camps, public skating sessions, skating lessons, and annual Disney on Ice trips. We’ve probably seen more Disney on Ice shows than an average family would see in their lifetime. During one of these Disney on Ice shows, my sister was able to interact with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from the Tangled portion of the show. My dad is the kind of guy who will reap all of the benefits he can to give his family the best experience.
We’ve been able to meet a few Olympian figure skaters, Johnny Weir included. He’s my mom’s favorite and he signed my figure skates. And a bunch of famous figure skaters signed this picture of me in NJ Devils garb.
A few weeks after I settled at home, we went to the ice rink to see my dad and to skate. Music from Yuri!!! On Ice kept flowing through my head as I tried to remember how to do a bunny hop or a shoot the duck. But I just couldn’t commit to doing it. I was afraid of falling and had to admit I was rusty. With the inspiration of YOI, I went with my dad to talk with the woman who runs the skating lesson program, and she gave me the green light.
Every Saturday, my sister and I go to the ice rink for lessons. We are in different class levels; she is learning the basics of skating and I’m trying to complete a backwards crossover without tripping over my feet.
I feel like the oddball of my class. It’s funny because I’m with girls who are 12 and under. I’m the oldest, the tallest, the fattest, and I stick out like a sore thumb. But then I look at the people who are in my sister’s class. There is an Asian man in his 40s whose butt meets the ice more than his feet do (thank god he wears a helmet.) America’s Funniest Home Videos content aside, the man is trying his best.
And although I haven’t fallen down (but I’ve been close a few times), I realize the man and I have something in common. We are both taking the class to improve our skating skills.
So what if I’m a 21 year old in a class of 5th graders? I’m just a little rusty is all. And as long as I believe in the heart of the cards… wait, wrong anime. As long as I believe in myself and not break any bones, my family will be happy I’m happy.
I’ll also be happy when Yuri!!! On Ice season 2 comes out.
Here’s my mom’s favorite ice skater, Johnny Weir, talking about YOI. Stop at 3:26 because there are spoilers!
Do you have an old pastime you want to try again? Let me know! Have you seen Yuri!!! On Ice? Thoughts? It’s a truly beautiful anime and I love Yuri’s theme song.
Until next time, keep skating.