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Ice is nice for aspiring skaters

February 19, 2002

Ice is nice for aspiring skaters



By SCOTT BUTKI
scottb@herald-mail.com


Heather Barger, 12, never ice skated before Monday but after seeing skaters on the ice during the Winter Olympics, she decided to give it a try at the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex.

"I just wanted to skate because it looks fun on television," she said. "At first it was hard but then it got easier."

David Bayles, executive director of the ice and sports complex, said Monday the facility was seeing an impact from the Winter Olympics on its ice skating and hockey programs. He said he expects attendance in ice skating classes to increase when new classes start in early March, he said.

Others who skated Monday afternoon at the complex also mentioned the Olympics as an influence.

Heather was accompanied by Pamela Caruso, 12, who said she went to the rink Monday on "an urge" after seeing skating on television.

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Anna-Claire Bowers, 13, said her enthusiasm for skating increased as she watched skating competitions on television.

"It looks really cool," she said.

Monday was also the first time Benjamin Reinert, 7, and Lorena Reinert, 6, of Chambersburg, Pa, had taken to the ice. They held the hands of father, John, while their mother, Diana, watched.

The family had talked previously about bringing the youngsters to skate, but this time the children showed more enthusiasm, Diana Reinert said.

Asked why he likes skating, Benjamin Reinert said, "You get to go fast."

The complex has a hockey program on Friday nights to teach people the sport, Bayles said. The number of people participating in the program has increased by 10 to 15 people, bringing attendance to about 40 people for ages 3 1/2 and up, he said.

Children and adults see the Olympic hockey games and want to learn how to play the game, he said.

Bayles said he has noticed higher attendance at public skating sessions, he said.

About 75 to 100 people, ages 3 1/2 and up, are taking ice skating classes, he said. He expects to see a 25 percent to 50 percent increase in class attendance due to interest in the Olympics when new skating classes start in early March.

Some of the new hockey players and ice skaters probably will switch to spring sports when the weather gets warmer, he said.

"But others will find it enjoyable and stay with it," he said.

Jacob Riddell, 6, and his sister, Shauna Riddell, 8, of Hedgesville, W.Va., who played hockey at the complex Monday, said they hope to one day to play hockey in the Olympics.

Alexis Smallwood, 8, of Inwood, W.Va., has a different aspiration. She has been watching the Olympics, but she has also seen another skating program, one which she finds even more compelling: Disney On Ice.

She wants to skate in the Disney program someday, perhaps as Cinderella, Alexis said.

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