A work in progress

Published 9:00 am Sunday, December 16, 2012

Skaters from the Riverside Figure Skating Club practice Monday night at Riverside Arena. Adam Harringa/adam.harringa@austindailyherald.com

Figure skating club a reward of class and grace for those competing in the popular club

Chris Nash-Amy has been figure skating since she was 7 years old. By 16, she was coaching others. More than three decades later, the Austin native is still passing her love on to the area’s youth.

Nash-Amy — who now lives in Lanesboro and works at Mayo Clinic in Rochester — has coached Austin’s Riverside Figure Skating Club for the past 34 years. While the group has 37 children from age 4 to high school, she says they’re always looking for more.

Zoë Dolan Peterson, a member of the Riverside Figure Skating Club, practices at Riverside Arena. Adam Harringa/adam.harringa@austindailyherald.com

Alexa Dolan Peterson, who has helped the group for the past four or five years, said skaters can be as involved as they want to be; just showing up for lessons, or competing and working their way through the skating levels.

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Beginners start in group lessons, and as they advance, they can take lessons in smaller groups, until they eventually take tests to advance up the U.S. Figure Skating Association ranks. The season culminates for the club with the Fire & Ice show at Riverside Arena March 9-10, 2013.

But to Nash-Amy, the most rewarding aspect of coaching is seeing children progress.

“Just being able to work with kids is very enjoyable to me,” she said, adding that while she has six grandchildren, she jokes she’d be happy with 100.

“The kids really have fun, and Chris is great,” Dolan Peterson said. “She knows if they need a little push or a hug. She has fun, and the kids can tell that.”

For Dolan Peterson, who has two children in the club, Nash-Amy is more than her kids’ coach; she actually got her involved when she was young.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Nash-Amy said. “I can’t believe I’m teaching kids of those I used to teach. But I always say, I enjoy it so much and it’s so fulfilling when they learn something new.”

And figure skating is a life-long sport, Dolan Peterson added. “Anytime you can get kids doing physical activity, it’s a good thing.”

The Hormel Foundation agrees: It announced its grant recipients this week, including the club on its list again, something Dolan Peterson said helps immensely.

“Ice is very expensive to rent, and we rely heavily on funding from [groups like The Hormel Foundation],” she said.

The group meets Monday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Nash-Amy said anyone interested in joining can simply show up on Sundays for a free first-time lesson.

For more information, visit www.riversidefigureskating.com.