Speedskating lessons for all ages begin Oct. 19
Arthur Schmiedl, of Cleveland Heights, had just finished a learn-to-skate session at the Cleveland Heights Community Center when he noticed someone his age walking around on really long skates.
“What are those?” he asked.
“Those are speed skates, kid,” said a coach who happened to overhear. “Want to give it a try?”
Schmiedl was 9 at the time. A few months later, he raced in his first short-track speedskating meet, and is now back for his third year of fun and competition. Earlier this year, he and three friends competed in the team relay event for their age group at the state championship.
The Cleveland Heights Speedskating Club formed in 2001, shortly after the new north rink opened at the CH Community Center. Apolo Ohno, perhaps the most famous American short-track speedskater, competed here several times during his run as an Olympian.
The club practices on Monday evenings and Saturday afternoons, September through March. Members' ages range from 5 to 75. The coaching staff mentors children and adults at all levels of ability at a cost designed to be inclusive for the diverse Heights community.
The club has several nationally ranked skaters. Others have more modest goals—going fast, working to improve their times, and moving to longer distances in the company of friends and supportive club members.
“I have a lot of fun at practice and at races,” said Ryan Shane, 13, now in his fourth season with the club. “Every year, I'm able to set new goals and accomplish them. The first year they worked with me on things like staying in base position and getting proper cross-overs. By my third year, it was making my goal times and going to national age-group championships.”
“My son Drew loves the speedskating program at Heights,” said Christine Harmon. “The camaraderie and the chance to exercise and test his abilities keep him engaged. It’s great for kids; all week, I hear stories about the coaches and other skaters.”
For participants who want to compete, local meets are held twice a year at the community center, sanctioned by Ohio Speedskating under the US Speedskating national organization.
For those interested in trying this fast, non-contact sport, the Cleveland Heights Recreation Department will offer a $66 six-week Introduction to Speedskating session for all ages on Thursdays, 6:15–7 p.m., beginning Oct. 19. A second session will begin in January.
Hockey skates and bicycle helmets are appropriate for the introductory sessions.
If interested, contact the ice rink or the Cleveland Heights Speedskating Club president, Barb Rosenbaum, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit the club website, www.clevelandheightsspeedskating.org.
Cleveland Heights resident Barb Rosenbaum is a Level 1 coach and president of the Cleveland Heights Speedskating Club. With a 2nd-place age-group finish at the national championship, she occasionally calls herself the second-fastest old-lady speedskater in the nation.