Skate to a Bright Future

As you begin your journey across the ice, you will quickly realize that you are learning so much more than how to skate. You will be infused with the joy of improving every time you try something new. Each time you fall, you will strengthen your confidence to get back up and try again. While learning the importance of balance, discipline and tenacity, you will be reassured that even the greatest challenges can be overcome. These are more than lessons in skating; they are lessons in life.

Photo courtesy of Figure Skating in Harlem

Learn to Skate USA makes these lessons accessible, easy and fun. So does Figure Skating in Harlem. Founded in 1997, FSH helps girls grow in confidence, leadership and academic achievement by combining the power of education with the artistic discipline of figure skating — a combination that builds champions on the ice and in life. The program strives to equip its participants with improved study habits, social and emotional skills, communication and teamwork — a component augmented by the sport’s fastest-growing discipline: synchronized skating.

A part of FSH’s program for seven of its 20 years in operation, the synchronized skating track has quickly developed, with more than 40 of the program’s 300 students skating among three Harlem Ice synchronized skating teams. While the focus remains on the program’s core values, like maintaining B+ average grades to remain on their respective teams, the unique on-ice track has proven to hold value beyond skating skills.

“One of my favorite parts of the season is when we have a combined practice with our Synchro 1 and 2 teams,” FSH Assistant Director of Skating and Synchro Manager, Nicole Owens, said. “I get to see them guide each other first hand. The older girls will teach and talk to the younger girls, and then those younger girls will work as a team to put those tips into practice. It’s such a cool thing to watch them model their communication and encouragement after each other.”

Synchronized skating provides the unique chance for figure skaters to participate in a team sport. The Learn to Skate USA synchronized skating curriculum introduces those opportunities through skill progression that leads skaters from first steps to first formations and beyond. More than that, the skills unique to synchronized skating intersect with skills valued in life, providing opportunity for communication, community building and friendships that transcend arena walls.

“The best thing about synchro is the friendships that it builds,” Owens said. “That’s something you don’t often get with the other more individual disciplines of skating. Those girls are in the trenches together during practices, then filled with excitement at competitions, and they lift each other up through all the highs and lows. Learning how to build those relationships and strengthen that camaraderie through all different circumstances is amazing for them. I want every girl in the program to experience it at some point. It’s formed a sisterhood and bond that’s integral to our program model.”

FSH and Learn to Skate USA both strive to equip participants with the skills they need to be successful both on and off the ice. To learn more, visit FigureSkatingInHarlem.org, or start your skating journey at LearnToSkateUSA.com.