Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Science of Skating and Thanks to the Coaches

This past week, The New York Times had a fascinating feature article on the Science of Skating. The article focused on the program at the University of Delaware in which scientists are tracking the motions and movements of figure skaters with goals of improving performance while attempting to also minimize injuries from improper training, overtraining, etc. The NYTimes also featured an article on a skate sharpener in Connecticut named "George," who sharpens skating blades with precision and knowledge of the skaters' skills and level of skating. Some of you may be aware of the President of the University of Delaware, Dr. Patrick Harker, who was the former Dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and is well-known in the operations research and management science communities.

My figure skating skills are non-existent, but as the mother of a figure skater, I have been introduced to this magnificent, unique world of artistry, musicality, and intense athleticism. Plus, figure skating combines costumes, drama, competitions, training, and incredible discipline on the part of the skaters (and their coaches). Skating has opened up new friendships, taken us to places we may not have otherwise traveled to (such as Broadmoor and the Olympic training facilities in Colorado Springs and Lake Placid). We have also watched numerous ice shows from Harvard University's to our Amherst Skating Club's annual show at both the Amherst College rink arena and at the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst. Plus, we have had a chance to meet such Olympians as Sarah Hughes and Johnny Weir, whose kindness to the young skaters will always be treasured.

I wanted to take a moment to thank the coaches who have through their hard work and expert coaching steered the skaters in their individual directions to strive for their dreams. From skating coaches, to dance coaches, to off-ice coaches, and to all the volunteers who run the various skating clubs, I give a big Thank You!