Hawaii’s New Ice Princesses

The hit Disney film about an ice skater is leading many young girls to the Ice Palace for skating lessons with dreams of one day becoming an Olympic champion

Yu Shing Ting
Friday - April 08, 2005
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“Eventually you will find your way to your dream. You’ll know when it’s real. You’ll see: you’ll sparkle and the whole world around you will sparkle, too.” — Michelle Kwan

Most little girls dream of being a princess in a beautiful dress and shining tiara. But these days, they’re trading in the glass slippers for ice skates, in hopes of becoming a figure skating champion like Casey Carlyle in Disney’s recently released Ice Princess.

Leilani Thourson gets a hand from
Jennifer Jones in her spin technique

“Since the movie came out we’ve been getting a lot of phone calls from people wanting more information about Ice Palace and people wanting to sign up for skate lessons,” says Jennifer Jones, a figure skating coach at Ice Palace. “Normally we get one to three new students on a Thursday night class, and tonight we have 16 brand new students. And just the general interest in skating has increased as well.”

According to Walt Disney Pictures, a recent national survey found that ice-skating is America’s second most popular sport, with only pro football gathering more votes from sports fans.

From past ice skating blockbusters like The Cutting Edge and Ice Castles, to reallife performances in the Winter Olympics, the sport has always been one of great respect with its creative choreography, speed, power and balance, along with dramatic acrobatics, dance and endless spins, and overall gravity-defying beauty.

Now, with Ice Princess on the big screen, more and more children are lacing up their ice skates and packing the ice rinks in hopes of becoming the next Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi or Michelle Kwan.

But ice skating is more than just gliding, jumping and spinning on ice. It requires athleticism, dedication and determination.

“The movie is a fairy tale; it’s highly unbelievable,” admits Jones. “Watching it as a skater, I can say that there are a lot of unrealistic parts. For example, in the movie she lands a triple jump in a couple of months, but in reality it takes years and years of hard work and falling.”

The film, which opened March 18, stars Michelle Trachtenberg as Casey Carlyle, a teen misfit who transforms from brainy bookworm to figure skating champion. Her adventure begins when she decides to do a report on the physics of figure skating, and is given the opportunity to meet the elite skaters at her local rink.

Then her life takes an unexpected turn as her book smarts end up helping her to become a skating prodigy, and before she knows it she’s skating for gold.

Along the way, she discovers the glamour, sweat and tears of skating competition, and is faced with endless obstacles on and off the ice. But in the end, she overcomes these challenges and lives out her most secret dream.

“It’s a princess story with that fairy-tale ending that Disney is known for,” says Jones. “It’s a good-hearted movie that mixes fantasy with sport together and sparks imagination for little girls.

“One of the first questions we get from the new students is when do I get the pretty costumes? Or why aren’t my skates white? Also, generally when you watch ice skating on TV, it looks so much easier than it is, so there’s a little bit of anxiety.”

Chanice Oasay, 9, saw the commercial for Ice Princess and told her mom that she wanted to take ice skating lessons. She enrolled and even recruited her friend and a neighbor to join in the fun.

“It just looked so fun,” says Oasay about the movie preview. “Like how she does all the turns.”

“I actually wanted her to skate when she was younger, but she didn’t want to and I didn’t force her,” says Oasay’s mom, Liz Cua-Oasay. “I’ve always liked it, so I’m excited for her. I hope she sticks with it. Maybe she could be the next Michelle Kwan.”

Ice Palace, the one and only ice rink in the 50th state, offers a skate program for skaters of all levels and all ages. Cost is $49 for four lessons, or $79 for eight lessons.

There are about 400 students enrolled and 14 instructors on staff. A bulk of the students are between ages 7 and 12.

Classes are half-an-hour, and the rink is closed to the public during each session.

Sydney Steifel, 10,
loves soccer too

The different class levels offered are Tots (for age 3 to 6), Pre-alpha, Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. In the Pre-alpha class, which is for beginners, students learn the basic skills of ice skating — how to move across the ice, fall down, stand on one foot and glide for three seconds, go forward and backwards, and stop. They also learn about safety, and how to check their skates for proper fit.

Alpha covers forward stroking, forward cross-overs, snowplow stops and a review of the basic skills. Beta teaches backward stroking and cross-overs, T-stop, and a review of alpha skills.

Gamma students learn outside 3-turns, Mohawk turns, hockey stop, and a review of alpha and beta skills. And Delta students learn forward outside and inside edges, inside 3-turns, bunny hop, lunge, and a review of all prior levels.

There are also more advanced classes available, including Freestyling 1-10 (jumps, spins, footwork sequences, spirals, etc.), Adult, Stroking (endurance and strength) and Precision (skating in formation).

“Our classes are certified by the Ice Skating Institute,” adds Jones. “We have a good retention rate. After they have completed a few different levels, our students get an idea of what kind of skater they want to be — speed, figure or hockey.”

Rachel Capinpin, 9, discovered ice skating after going to a friend’s birthday party


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