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Skaters come out of the cold, into the rink

January 11, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Ten-year-old Rachel Kaszubski couldn't wait to come in out of the cold Saturday morning so she could get right back into the cold at the Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex.

"It's my favorite sport, even though it's cold in there," Rachel said.

With visions of competition in her future, she spent her morning dutifully practicing her figure skating.

Despite frosty temperatures inside and out, the indoor rink at 580 Security Road in Hagerstown was humming Saturday.

"Today is the first day of the winter season and there's lot of activity," said Jennifer Kaszubski, skating director and Rachel's mother.

Skaters of all ages and experience levels were checking in, some registering for the seven-week sessions while others had already signed up.

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Kaszubski and Teresa Deckert, the assistant skating director, said about 30 people came in Saturday for the start of the new season.

A lifelong skater and native of Bowie, Md., Kaszubski said she checked out the rink when she moved to the area six years ago. "I drove by, put in my application and have been here ever since," she said.

Her students range in age from as young as 21/2 years to people in their 70s.

"I got my mom skates for Christmas and now I'm trying to talk her into ice dancing," Kaszubski said, noting the rink has something for everyone.

"I bring my grandson, Bradley Jones, for his power-skating lessons," said Noelle Murray of Hagerstown. "There are a lot of us who pick up kids from school, they change clothes in the car and then we're here. But it's great for them."

Kimberly Jensen, of Hancock, said she is at the rink five days a week.

"My daughter, Merrick, power skates two times a week and then takes private lessons," Jensen said.

Deb and Rod Shepherd journey from Martinsburg, W.Va., four days a week with their 10-year-old daughter Baleigh.

"We first came over around Christmas three years ago and she loved it," said Deb Shepherd.

Participants in a power-skating class, taught by Erin Benedum, worked up a pretty good sweat during their session Saturday morning. "I make them work hard but they love it," she said.

Benedum said she was 11 when she first skated at a small rink in Morgantown, W.Va., where she grew up. Once she got into it, she traveled to Pittsburgh for lessons. That led to trips to Boston and Los Angeles.

An instructor at the Hagers-town rink for four years, Benedum said she feels lucky to be able to combine skating with her job. "I have a job that I love and that keeps me fit," she said. "What an opportunity."

Benedum, Kaszubski and their skaters agreed that their sport is worth some sacrifices.

"For me, it's the feeling of freedom you feel gliding across the ice," Kaszubski said.

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