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Wayne Post
  • COACHING KAMP: Popularity of figure skating back on the rise

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  • It doesnít matter if you live on the frozen shores of Lake Ontario like here in Rochester or the sunny shores of the Pacific or Atlantic, figure skating is once again becoming a popular youth sport. When you consider how popular the sport was in the 1970s and 80s, aside for the devoted, the sport recently took a dip in youth sports popularity. Whether itís the fact that many parents are looking for non-traditional sports for their kids due to the scares in injuries or the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the sport is making a comeback faster than Dorothy Hamillís bob grows in. For you youngsters who may not know who she is, Google Dorothy Hamill to learn about Olympic glory on ice.
    According to U.S. Figure Skating, toddlers as young as 2 and 3 years of age are once again lacing up the skates with mom and dadís help and hitting the ice, both literally and figuratively. Learn-to-skate classes are increasing across the nation and here in our area, where just a few short years ago ice time was dominated by hockey teams, the time is once again balancing out.
    Youth figure skating knows no boundaries of economics, demographics or gender as it once did. Today, with more rinks available and increased open skates with coaching, youngsters are finding the sport to be both athletic and artistic, so much so that even psychologists and physical therapists are using figure skating to work with children with disabilities and are encouraging them to participate in Special Olympic Skating programs in their region.
    While not every child who takes up figure skating can or will be an Olympian, the sport is providing offseason training for players of multiple spring and summer sports. Additionally, in this era of social media, smart phones and tablets, families are finding that figure skating is actually something they can do together versus the traditional youth sports where parents and siblings are mere spectators sitting in the grandstands. The sport provides the necessary basics that are suggested for youth exercise by the American Pediatric Association and for adults it falls into the category of increased aerobic activity by the American Heart Association.
    The overly protective may say that a fall on the ice is worse than a hit on the football field. U.S. Figure Skating is studying the incidents that take place but offer both sound advice and common sense. The hard ice surface can be risky which it is suggested that novice skaters and toddlers should be wearing helmets, and before they put the blades on are taught how to properly fall and get up on the ice. Many of those who coach figure skating also use lead poles or bars that assist in keeping the young athletes up on their skates, and work with numerous assistants to keep a watchful eye on the students. Parents can get a tip sheet on preventing figure skating injuries from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine on their website.
    Page 2 of 2 - If the Sochi Olympics are like other Olympic Games, there will be an increase in winter sports participation both during and after the games due to the hours that will be televised over the cable and internet outlets, and while the cream of the crop from U.S. Figure Skating will be competing, coaching and judging, rest assured that there will be plenty of certified rinks and teachers back here in the States to help you and your children out. To find a program in our area for you and your family, visit the website usfigureskating.org.
    Greg Kamp is a 23-year veteran of youth sports as a coach and administrator and is currently the President of Penfield Little League and sits on the board at the District level. He is the host of Youth Sports Now, a weekly radio show on WYSL-AM/FM and also runs Strategy First, his own public relations and marketing business. Contact him at youthsportsradio@rochester.rr.com.
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