x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

M Plays: A cool skate of mind at Zayed Sports City

Two girls with a passion for ice skating on why their favourite pastime puts them in a spin, and why everyone should join in.

Alexa, right, began skating when she was 7, and is now a member of the Abu Dhabi figure skating team.
Alexa, right, began skating when she was 7, and is now a member of the Abu Dhabi figure skating team.

Beat the heat this summer by heading for the cool of the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink. Two girls with a passion for skating on why their favourite pastime puts them in a spin, and why everyone should join in.

It is 45 degrees outside in Abu Dhabi and I am wearing a jacket and gloves. You may ask why? Well, I am ice skating at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink. It is an Olympic-sized ice rink and a great place to have fun and beat the heat.

By the way, my name is Zahra and I am a UAE national who happens to be on the Abu Dhabi figure skating team. I have been skating for five years and I love it. I began skating only once a week and have slowly increased that to five times a week. I started out not even being able to stand up on ice and now I compete in figure skating competitions.

Ice skating is an amazing sport and I encourage people of all ages to try it. It is great for health, stamina and posture. Not to mention, it is loads of fun. Here at the rink you meet people from all over the world and even get to know the terrific staff at Zayed Sports City personally.

Sometimes it is hard to find things to do in the summer because of the heat. Ice skating is the best solution. You may go thinking that you are going to skate for only 30 minutes or so and end up skating for a lot longer because you are enjoying yourself so much. A lot of people worry about not being able to skate and feel self-conscious the first time. What they have to realise is that everyone feels the same way at the beginning. There are always beginners on the ice and the rink has three qualified trainers available for lessons. Even the skating team members are usually around and are always more than happy to assist anyone. I always love watching the small kids trying to skate and even the grandparents who bring grandkids. They are all laughing and really having fun. It is a great type of entertainment that the whole family can enjoy together.

I have made many friends in the years that I have been skating. I skate regularly with people from the UAE, the UK, the US, Romania, Germany, Australia, Canada, the Philippines, France, Singapore and many more. I think it is a great opportunity for so many different nationalities to come together and enjoy one type of sport. We have a great skating team who are more like family than friends. It has been a great opportunity for me to skate here in Abu Dhabi with such a great coach and I hope to see some new skaters on ice this summer. So come on, let's beat the heat and skate.

Zahra, 16


Do you ever get tired of going to the same malls, to the same shops, drooling over the same item that you simply can't afford, no matter how many times you check your wallet? I know I do. So, instead of going to the shops, I know someplace better. The Abu Dhabi Ice Rink at Zayed Sports City is an awesome place to chill out with your mates. And when I say chill out, I mean it, so put on those layers now.

I began skating when I was 7, and am now a member of the Abu Dhabi figure skating team and I love it. I'm friends with just about everyone there, and there are new skaters signing up every day.

So what if it's the summer? Now is the best time to go. Kiss goodbye to 45-degree temperatures and say hello to the cool. Sure, it isn't exactly the highlight of your life when you fall over in front of your friends, but everyone - kids, your parents, your grandma and even professionals - fall all the time, so it's no big deal. In skating, if you don't fall, you don't learn.

Did you know that there's a skating move called the camel spin? It is one of my favourite moves. It is similar to an arabesque in ballet except you're on the ice, and you're spinning. Despite its strange name, it's a very pretty spin and beautiful to watch.

Think skaters have a special diet? They do - it's called warm French fries and Gatorade from the cafe in the rink with your friends. Having friends is one of the best parts of skating, in my opinion. You become closer than normal friends, if only for the mutual passion of the sport. Even when you're in a competition against each other, worrying that you haven't studied enough for your school exam finals, and trying to remember how to do that move you've been practising for weeks, we still find time to drag mattresses into each other's rooms, take goofy photos and go to sleep very, very late, just like in any sleepover, like any other teenagers. We really are family.

Alexa, 13


Abu Dhabi Ice Rink, 02 403 4200, ice@zsc.ae, www.zsc.ae. Prices are Dh25 with own skates or Dh35 with skate hire. Lessons are available from Sundays to Wednesdays this month for children 5 years and older.