Bird Arena’s Learn to Skate Program will have its annual Winter Wonderland Ice Show on Sunday from 7-9 p.m.
The performance will feature winter-centric numbers including both solo and group numbers by the participants of the program, ranging from 3-year-olds to adults.
The performers chose a song related to the holiday or a song related to the winter season and worked with a coach outside of normal lesson times for the performance. Maya Oshita, a skating graduate program assistant who oversees the program, is excited for the ice skaters to show off their skills they’ve been learning all semester.
“We do it as a way that the skaters can showcase the work that they've been putting in throughout the semester so far, and it gives them something to work towards throughout the year,” Oshita said.
The Learn to Skate program is a program affiliated with the national governing body for figure skating, the U.S.Figure Skating Association. The local program is a member of Learn to Skate U.S.A., which teaches both figure and recreational skating.
“They can start as young as three years old, and they're divided up by age and skill level,” Oshita said.
The program has several levels for young skaters and one level for adult skaters. The program takes place during the school year in six-week increments, with children coming once or twice a week for lessons.
Instructors for the program are almost entirely comprised of Ohio University undergraduate students.
Participants are mostly from the Athens area, Oshita said, but some drive from up to an hour and a half away to participate. The program is the only one in the area, and also at the only ice rink in the area.
“We are the only rink for about an hour to an hour and a half,” Oshita said.
The program has been around for almost 20 years, Oshita said, and she herself started in the program when it was fairly new.
Many students support the idea of the program, like Andrea Zippay, a sophomore studying criminology, who said she thinks that arts and athletics for children in the local area is important.
Kaylee Micheal, a freshman studying musical theater, said she is a strong believer in the performing arts and that she thinks the program is important.
“It sounds like a really fun thing to go see. It's always fun to go see kids doing things that they enjoy,” Micheal said.
Oshita believes it is very important for Athens residents to come out and support the skaters.
“I just think it's really nice when members of the community who aren’t tied to any particular skater or the program in general come to watch,” Oshita said. “It's a really nice way to support local skaters and show that the community is supportive of what they're doing and understands and appreciates that they put a lot of work into this, and that it helps them grow not only as a skater, but also as a person.”