Blades of Rookie

Written by Amanda Kippert Category: Lifestyle Issue: January 2016
Group Free


Photo by Madison Kirkman

Greenhorns, get gliding with this how-to guide to ice skating.

This winter, your children – or your inner child – may want to go ice skating, especially given the opportunity to do so under the stars at CitySkate in Phoenix (see sidebar). But the Valley of the Sun isn’t exactly a hub for snow-based sports, so some people – this writer included – need some know-how in order to literally break the ice, and not a hip.

Thankfully, Toni Wright, a competitive figure skater turned ice skating instructor at AZ Ice Gilbert, has us covered. With her four-step skating tutorial, we can be that much closer to an Instagram-worthy outing with offspring, or at least avoid ending the first session looking like a bruised banana. Wright says kids are naturally more fearless when it comes to ice skating, having zero knowledge about the long-term ramifications of broken bones or pulled muscles. “Plus, they’re bendy. Like Gumbies,” she says. Wright says adults should be willing to feel “a bit like clowns” the first time on the ice because “everyone’s doing it.”


In addition to indoor venues like AZ Ice Gilbert, the Valley offers outdoor ice skating through January 11 at CitySkate in Downtown Phoenix. Daily day sessions ($12 each M-F, $15 Sa-Su) take place from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., and night sessions ($15 each) happen 5-11 p.m. M-F and 3-11 p.m. Sa-Su. Visit for more information.




On The Ice

Step 1: Wright says I need to put my arms straight out in front of me, like Frankenstein, also a skilled ice skater.

Step 2: “You just march,” Wright says. Not glide. Not skate. Not push off like roller skating. March. Bring your knees up and make sure you look awkward. “There’s no such thing as walking on ice,” she tells me. “The blade will slide out from under you and you’ll fall. It’s a side-to-side, easy marching waddle.”

Step 3: Now, you can let yourself glide. It’s a natural progression from awkward waddle to gliding. Believe it or not, you’ll begin to pick up a little speed and it’ll just happen. From here on out, you simply add momentum. When you’re feeling bold enough, you can try to glide backward. The same steps apply, only you have no idea where you’re going.

Step 4: Learn how to stop. Despite your inclination to cease gliding by running into a wall, a popular roller skating rink move, the better plan is to implement the “snowplow stop.” Bend your knees slightly, keeping your weight even between both feet (don’t let your weight go too far forward), and move your feet out to the sides, turning your toes inward. You can practice this move first while at a standstill, holding on to the wall. The technique should scrape up a small pile of snowy ice flakes if done correctly.

Bonus Tip: Learning how to fall properly can minimize potential injuries. As soon as you feel like you’re falling, get as low a center of gravity as possible. Put your hands out in front of you and try to fall to the side of your butt. Once fallen, get up as quickly as possible. “We never want to lay on the ice,” Wright says. “There may be other beginners who are coming your way and may not be able to control themselves, and that’s disaster.”


Check out or our tablet editions (available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play) for exclusive behind-the-scenes video of the PHOENIX magazine photoshoot  with Toni Wright (pictured).