Having the Time of My Life — As An Adult Ice Skater

Because what Adult Ice Skater wouldn’t want to attempt a rendition of Dirty Dancing on ice?

Frances “Baby” Houseman & Johnny Castle take the ice for the last dance of the season! Photos by Bob Young Photography.

I step onto the ice wearing a nervous smile and a pale pink dress. The competition announcer cajoles the audience to welcome Jenni and David to the ice. We share a final okay, we’re really doing this glance, bend our knees, and take our first stroke in near-perfect unison. At center ice we settle into our intro poses. The music begins

“Now I’ve had the time of my life, no I never felt like this before…” The iconic song chimes from the speakers. And in that moment a lifelong dream of mine came true.

As a pre-tween I dared to dream that one day I would re-create the last dance from Dirty Dancing. Through the years, that last dance never ceased to mesmerize me. Bad boy Johnny Castle and his bold proclamation that “nobody puts baby in a corner,” never failed to inspire me.

Adult Ice Skating Dirty Dancing Rendition — Pairs Open Bronze, Kroc Center Ice ISI Open

Though I never pictured my last dance rendition taking place on the ice. I didn’t grow up skating. Six years ago I first took to the ice and from that very first Adult Beginning class, I was hooked. There is something magical about being on the ice that grips me. Gliding effortlessly across fresh ice is pure freedom. No sound satisfies quite like the rip of a deep edge. Stepping out there sparks to life a piece of me I had never known.

There is a path for adults in figure skating. I’ve had the opportunity to compete as a singles skater, with an adult production team, and as a pair skater. I’ve taken (and passed!) four U.S. Figure Skating adult-track tests and fourteen Ice Skating Institute tests, including a pair skating test and two ice dance tests.

Open Silver & Freestyle 4 Test Patches

And the student becomes the teacher. For the past two years I’ve been blessed to teach group classes, sharing my love for this sport with students of all ages, from tiny tots to seniors. My youngest student was 2 years old, and my oldest a 74 year old woman with the goal to skate an entire lap of the rink by herself.

Figure skating is a challenging and rewarding sport at any age, and it is for any age. Skating has taught me so much about myself. I’ve taken the hard spills and got back up. This sport has broken my heart and built me up. I jokingly call her both a good friend and a cruel mistress. Yet ultimately, skating brings more joy into my life than I can put into words.

It doesn’t matter that we eat it. What matters is how we get up.

“‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life, and I owe it all to you…” As a little girl I had a dream and that dream became a pairs skating goal. In those 2 minutes and 8 seconds our goal came to fruition. David and I skated a routine we’re proud of. It wasn’t perfect, but that was never what mattered. Skating is about the journey.

Stepping out there demands bravery, a willingness to be vulnerable, and an ability to be afraid but do it anyway. Ice skating has taught me many things. Above all this sport taught me that it’s never too late―to do what you want to do, to become who you want to be.