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January 27. 2013 10:24PM

Cheshire Arena in Swanzey celebrates Figure Skating Month


The Cheshire Ice Rink filled with skaters Saturday night as part of the "It's Great to Skate" Clinic. (MEGHAN PIERCE PHOTO)

SWANZEY - Bearing the 20 degree weather, nearly 200 people sat in the bleachers at the Cheshire Ice Arena on Saturday to watch Cheshire Figure Skating Club's exhibition show, part of the "It's Great to Skate" Clinic held Saturday.

"We have some great kids. To go out in spaghetti straps in this kind of weather is kind of amazing. They must love it," said Linda Walker, a Cheshire Figure Skating Club parent and president of the board.

The clinic that included free lessons, open skating time and a skating party for the public was held to mark U.S. Figure Skating National Skating Month.

Club board member Russell Van Kuren said turnout was fantastic for the 33-year-old club, which is hoping to boost membership and make the public more aware of skating as a fitness activity.

The Cheshire Skating Arena is one of 175,000 rinks across the country participating in U.S. Figure Skating National Skating Month throughout January, Van Kuren said.

It's been many years since the club has held a clinic, he said.

"It's not just about Cheshire Figure Skating Club. It's about national learning to skate. We want the public to be more aware of the opportunities for skating," he said. "If it brings in people, then great. We're hoping more adults will join."

After enjoying a free skating session, Page Adelman of Keene signed herself and her 4-year-old daughter Virginia up for lessons. Adelman, who skated when she was younger, said it's an activity she and her daughter can enjoy together and it's a lot cheaper than skiing, a winter sport Adelman said she can no longer afford.

Walker said the club is open to all ages, "4 to 104."

The club is not just for figure skaters. About 85 club members take basic skills lessons. Many hockey players join the club while they are learning how to skate, Van Kuren said.

The club also has another 35 to 40 members who study figure skating privately. Walker said some of these private students are planning to compete in the State Games of America in Hershey, Pa., in August.

"It's very exciting," Walker said.

Walker's daughter, 17-year-old Lindsay Walker, is planning to compete. She has been in the program for 11 years and now enjoys teaching younger children skating and seeing the confidence it gives them, she said.

"I really love working with the kids and I do think it a good learning experience for the kids," Lindsay said. "I really love performing. The competitions are fun too, but I think the shows are the best part."

Walker said the program offers the children so much on so many different levels.

"These are some lifelong friends and later on it's a job, they can go on and teach if they get up to a certain level," she said.

The Cheshire Skating Club is holding its annual exhibition show March 16 at the Cheshire Ice Arena. You can learn more about the club at www.cheshirefigureskating.org.


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