Written by: Maureen Bennie

The Olympia Skating Club reached their 5th anniversary today and was recognized by Skate Canada with a certificate. This is a huge milestone!

Starting a skating club for adults only has not been an easy journey, but it has been a rewarding one. The needs of adult skaters are so different from child and youth skaters. Too often, adults are an afterthought if they are thought of at all in clubs. Dedicated “adult only” ice is rare and often children are still permitted on those ice times. A dedicated skating club for adults has ensured a wonderful ice surface that is both safe and productive.

Many of our adult skaters are over the age of 50. Some started as children but then had a long break of 20 years or more. A few started as adults and learned skills from scratch. Each skater has had their own goals to strive towards with the support of our Olympic level head coach, Monika Bafia. Monika has a deep understanding of the aging body and what is safe to do both on and off the ice. Olympia has a daily off ice program either before or after each skating session as well as a dedicated 90 minute skating related workout one day a week. Everyone has a different level of fitness, old injuries, medical conditions, and ability. Monika designs our program to work for each person to help them be at their best.

During these past 5 years, Olympia has welcomed members from age 18 to 80. Our skaters come from all walks of life and backgrounds. Some are students, entrepreneurs, fitness instructors, medical professionals, and work in all sorts of careers. We’re mothers, wives, grandmothers, husbands, siblings, aunts and uncles. Some skaters compete in Canada and abroad, some complete tests, and most of us take part in our annual Christmas and Summer shows which are pure fun. At Christmas time, we’ve opened our ice to the community at large to celebrate the joy of skating.

We recently had our AGM on July 17th. Monika talked about how Olympia is more than just a skating club – we are like family. We’ve supported each other through personal loss, illness, family tragedies, difficult moments, and struggles. Through it all, we’ve stayed together as team and done what we could for each other. Skating has helped al of us both physically and mentally.

As a mother of two children with autism who are now young adults, I could not have achieved what I have without this skating club. My teammates have encouraged me at every skating session, found me the support workers that care for my children now, babysat my children, kept an eye on them while I skated, gave them work experience at the Grassroots Farmers Market that supports our ice, and the physical exercise has kept me fit and healthy for my daily parenting challenges. I have never seen a group of people pull together like this club has.

Olympia also thanks the Grassroots Skaters’ Foundation because without their support, our ice would not have been possible. The Foundation has helped us with some of our ice prepayment costs, show expenses, and ice shortfalls over the past 5 years. When you are a small club, fundraising efforts are difficult and adult sports clubs are not eligible for traditional fundraising avenues like casinos and bingos. The Foundation operates the Deerfoot City Farmer’s Market for 4 months of the year which raises the funds to support adult skating in Alberta. Each week, Olympia members volunteer their time at the market. The skaters who volunteer earn credits to put towards their ice costs. It really is a team effort!

Adult skating is a wonderful way to make new friends and challenge yourself both physically and mentally. We are proud of what our club has achieved these past 5 years under the guidance of Monika Bafia. As Canada’s only adult skating club, we will continue to keep our standards high and support the goals and aspirations of our skaters. There is no other sport like figure skating!

Photo credit: Olympia Skating Club