Ann Ormsby – Ice Skating at 80-Something

In the middle of last month Ann Ormsby wondered, “Will I really ice skate today? Will I be able to make my body and skates work? Would I beg off just before my lesson? Am I demented?” Yes, yes, no, NO!

Ann started figure skating in New Haven, Connecticut, when she was seven years old.  Her Saturday class for kids took place at the first Olympic-sized skating rink in the country, built in 1914. What initially appealed to her was the opportunity to perform in the annual rink galas, where everyone was dressed in dreamy costumes and performed in choreographed exhibitions. Once Ann learned how to do some of the formal ice dance steps, Sunday morning adult dance sessions were a possibility. She was tall for her age so she took the “boy part” with another girl, and they were off. These were “senior sessions,” where 35 or so pairs skated at the same time. To be in a rink-sized circle with that many couples, all starting on the first note of a particular dance rather than an announcement, was thrilling. Ann skated weekends there until she went away to college.

Higher ed, marriage, and kids intervened. Long story short, Ann didn’t resume skating until 1988. From that point through 2009, she worked with coaches at the Olympic View Arena in Shoreline, passing her United States Skating Association Silver ice-dancing test.

Between 2009 and January 2017 Ann didn’t skate. As the questions at the beginning of the story indicate, she was worried about resuming this activity she had enjoyed so much. She knew she needed to get more exercise, build muscle, and work on balance, but was ice skating the right thing to do at age 85? Once she was on the ice at Olympic View Arena with her earlier coach, she knew she was in the right place, doing the right thing. After a hesitant start, Ann let go of her coach’s arm. “My left leg and new hip felt strong and balanced. Right foot and leg not so much. My balance disability came into play; I’m going to have to learn to compensate for that,” she told herself. “Our half hour lesson was enough for me. I skate again in two weeks. In the meantime I’ll work on thigh strength and balance. I did it and I’m going to do it again!”

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