A love letter to Tantramar Veterans Memorial Civic Centre

It is February 2018. I am sitting in my living room, body filled with exhilaration as I watch Canada win the Team Gold in figure skating. A few days later, I am once again full of excitement and suspense, hoping and thrumming with energy in anticipation as I wait for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to win gold in ice dance, making them the most decorated figure skaters of all time. 

I love figure skating. It is a sport that I have dedicated hours and hours to—learning about the techniques and politics, reading the rules, watching events, and going to ice shows. I yell at the screen while watching, much like a straight man watching hockey or football. But I have never really gotten to figure skate. 

I learned how to skate, like every good Canadian child. Much to my dismay, I have always had feet that my parents deemed would be much more comfortable in hockey skates than in figure skates. And so, even though I was only slightly slower than the hockey boys, I stopped skating just after I learned the basics. 

About a year and a half ago, my mom decided she had had enough of my whining about skating and got me nice beginner figure skates for my birthday, from a boutique in Toronto that specializes in figure skating. And that, dear reader, is where the civic centre comes in. I’m not looking to be the next Michelle Kwan, or Yuna Kim. I’m far too late for that. Besides, my busy schedule meant that even committing to weekly lessons was a stretch. But I can re-teach myself how to skate. 

Every weekday, from 12–1:30pm, the Tantramar Civic Centre holds free lunchtime skates. While in Toronto the public rinks are often so packed that you can barely move, lunchtime skates at the civic centre are fairly empty, which also makes me far less self-conscious. I’m currently working on one-foot forwards skating, backwards skating, and just starting crossovers (all fairly beginner skills), but I’m making progress and it’s a lot of fun. There is something incredibly peaceful about the cool, bright atmosphere of a rink, and the soft scratching of blades against the ice. Whether you’re going by yourself or bringing a group of friends, dust off those skates and get out there, and maybe I’ll see you there! 

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