Even recreational ice dancers chafe at the notion that their sport of choice is sometimes called “pairs skating lite,” chosen as a fallback by those who can’t cut it with the jumps and the freestyle. But ice dancing’s rules have become much more technical over the past decade.
“People think it’s is easier than freestyle because they don’t understand the absolute precision of this sport,” said Sarah France, who also coaches ice dancing. “You are being judged on every step, so every moment has to be perfect. Add to that being in harmony with another body, and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
David and Becky Evans find that the social skate makes for “an unbeatable date night,” she said.
Becky, who already had some training as a figure skater, coaxed her hockey-playing husband into trying something they could enjoy together. Initially leery, David discovered he really liked it. At first, he hid his newfound interest from his hockey buddies, “but there’s a shortage of men around here, so Becky thinks I should recruit some,” he said.
“Wouldn’t they rather skate with a chick than a stick?” she said.
Burdette also lamented the club’s male-to-female ratio.
“We’re always on the lookout for a tall, dark stranger who can still stand up,” she said.
Club president Diane Geving and her husband, Glen, make a cute couple on the ice. But as is the case with Kamin and Lee, who are both married to other people, it’s more common for ice-dancing partners not to be romantically involved. Outsiders sometimes find this difficult to grasp, because ice dancing requires a certain kind of intimacy.
Make-ups and breakups have occurred over the years among Starlight members, some involving real-life romance, others skating-compatibility issues only.
Jon Koser used to dance with Sonia Srichai, but she’s moved on. Brad Daniels and Sarah France used to be dance partners, but no more.
“It’s just interpersonal dynamics,” France said. “He and I bicker like siblings.”
France said she tries to avoid dating within the ice-dance community because “it’s so small and close-knit, and the last thing you need out on the ice is a distraction.”
On this night, France and Daniels took a few turns around the rink. At the end of the session, he asked for her number, saying, “I’d like to skate with you again.” The club does forge close friendships, said Lisa Veith, 53, who didn’t take it up until she was 40. Despite her enthusiasm for recently having learned a new and comparatively ultra-modern dance, the disco slide, she says the best thing about the club is the relationships she’s made.
“We’ve lost several members over the last few years, and we all go to the funerals,” she said.
One, club co-founder Bernie Lindgren, skated on the day before he died last year at age 88.
Risk vs. reward
Kristine Galligan of Cottage Grove, 35, was into figure skating as a child, then took nearly a dozen years off before deciding to join the Starlight club. A few years ago, she got sliced — following a miscalculation, one of her partner’s skate blades went deep into her right calf.