The Olympics have come and gone with their corruptions and upsets as well as some shining examples of triumph over adversity. Either way you see the Olympics, the events (whether administrative or physical) offer an arena where sports become a metaphor for our own individual paths.
Speed skating has not always risen above the pack of watchable sports partly because it’s not team driven and lacks the stop/start action of, say, ping pong (or rather, table tennis). Skaters don sleek, form-fitting unitards (to eliminate even the most miniscule resistance) and skate around either a short or long track at speeds reaching 30mph. Anyone who has watched this sport is probably more impressed by the diameter of the skaters’ thighs than the outcome of the race.
But Dr. Suzanne Coffey of Charlottesville would like to change the perception that speed skating is meant only for Olympic competitors and people living in the hinterlands with nothing better to do. As the oldest of four children growing up north of Chicago, she spent many wonderful hours with her brothers and father speed skating.
“It’s a great way for families to be together in a healthful, competitive way,” Coffey says. Such fond memories have led her to organize a Charlottesville speed skating club. And like other great ideas, this one now has a momentum all its own.
She already has five team members and Coffey says speed skating is a sport that defies age barriers, citing a team in Pittsburgh limited to people 60-69 years old. Here in Charlottesville, children can start as young as four and begin racing by the time they’re six, depending on their maturity. Coffey points out that the sport is not just for families but also for those who want to take part in an activity with family-like members. Everyone’s on the same skate team reaching his or her own potential.
The Charlottesville Ice Park will donate free ice time and skates to anyone interested in trying out for the team. Currently there are five other Virginia teams for competition. Coffey hopes that the next winter Olympics speed skating team will have a Virginian on it. With her enthusiasm, that doesn’t sound like an impossible dream.
The first meeting of the Charlottesville speed skating team will be held at the Downtown Ice Park on April 20 from 4-6pm. Registration is required (forms can be downloaded from HYPERLINK "http://www.icepark.com" www.icepark.com or picked up at the ice park or at the Community Chiropractic Health Care at 689 Berkmar Circle). Please bring bike helmets and gloves and wear long sleeves and long pants. The Ice Park will donate ice time and skates. For more information, call Dr. Suzanne Coffey at 434-825-4362.