Skating was another popular pastime at winter resorts where I spent my vacations (and frequently, I was taken out of school to join my parents – my school principal closed his eyes on this practice, even encouraged it). My first pair of skates was second-hand and of an old-fashioned make that I couldn't master, so I would nag my parents to get me a new pair, and they finally did (which was unusual; typically, the most certain way not to get something was to ask for it. It was deemed good for the child's character building). During my truant weeks, I had the skating rink all to myself. When it had snowed during the night, I would use a huge, heavy shovel to first make paths, then connect them, finally clearing the whole rink. I would hold world championships in figure skating, winning all medals under different names. In the evening, some grownups would join. On weekends, the rink was full of kids. There would be hockey matches in which I wasn't invited to participate.
In my early teens, I attended a sports club together with some school friends, where skating was the major sports during winter season. But later on, skating became a substitute for dancing. We would go to a fancy rink, saving for entrance fee. There was a clear romantic element in this: boys would help girls to lace boots, and we would skate in pairs, boys dragging girls “faster, faster!”, music playing, coloured lights flickering. This was the closest I have ever been to a date: going skating in a big company, choosing or being chosen by a boy, with no strings attached. Or so I thought, in my innocence. Already engaged to be married, I went skiing with a boy who noticed my engagement ring when lacing my boot and was noticeably disappointed.
My first husband wasn't sporty, but he generously allowed me to go skating with his best friend, which I continued to do long after divorce and until I moved to Sweden. I brought my skates, and during the first couple of winters we went skating: me, Sergej, Lisa and Jakob, and I have a picture of me skating behind a push-chair with baby Julia in it. Why did we stop? I don't know. Life caught up with me, I guess. I know Julia had skates, but I don't remember ever skating with her; maybe she did with her school.
PS When I searched the web for an image, the first three hundred images were of roller skates. That's what I call cultural difference. So, in case you wonder, this post was about ice skating.