Who would have thought that a simple request to do ice skating by my ten year old would result in the ice-rink at the Ile Lacroix becoming my second home!
Like other clubs, ESPAR the Ecole Sportive de Patinage Artistique de Rouen gave the boys two free trial sessions before we needed to open the purse strings to pay for lessons. The first lesson was an excellent and varied series of challenges, including slalom runs and the first tentative efforts at skating backwards. The boys loved it, and barely had a foot left the rink when they demanded to join the following lesson some fifteen minutes later!
6 months later the boys have continued with their wednesday double bill, two hour skating lesson, and inspired the rest of my kids to follow suit. So here I am, a fully fledged “skating mother” – as much part of the general scenery as the ice itself. Two hours on wednesday, an hour and a half on monday, not including the repetitions (rehearsals) for the Gala and the requisite learning of all the appropriate vocabulary.
In June, three months into the boys association with the club, the students of ESPAR performed Peter Pan, an excellent event made all the better by watching my boys , one dressed as a indian and the other as an elf succeed in moving in the right direction and remaining upright for the duration! What was inspiring was the level the lead players had attained by the age of 16. But if some-one had told me that I would find myself creating elf costumes and skate covers from spangly green and gold fabrics without a pattern, I may have thought longer about inscribing them in the first place!
I have shared the misery and joy of the “Glaçon” tests, of which there are six, each with their own particular challenges. And what can be worse than seeing one child gain all the glory whilst the second misses the award by the skin of his teeth or than watching the face of the child that gets left in his group whilst the other is advanced to the next? Today however, full of pride I watch from the sidelines as my sons’ are tested on their skills, with the older one getting both his third and forth glaçons on the same day, a serious achievement.
One of my boys in particular is passionate about his skating, and having learnt about the existence of the “Ecole de Glace” set about besieging me to think about it. As the weeks progress I note that the trainer is paying him particular attention, fine tuning his moves. Shortly afterwards she approaches me about the school. It seems she believes that he is sufficiently “passioné” and capable. It is a serious committment. In CM2 a potential student must undertake no less than 5 hours of skating weekly, progress through the six glaçons, and onto the medal tests which are individually performed in front of a jury. The Ecole de Glace commences at sixième, the first year of Collège, at age 11 and entry is determined only by the trainers, and the level of skating achieved by the student. The student must obtain a place at the Collège de Fontanelles in the specialist music and dance class where all academic subjects are undertaken in the morning to enable the pusuit of skating every weekday afternoon. It is in strong demand.
It’s early days and sporting passions wax and wane with the frequency of the moon. But opportunities remain out there for those with the desire to follow them. If not patinage artistique today, how about hockey sur glace tomorrow?