by Ardeana Hamlin
OF THE WEEKLY STAFF
BANGOR — When the Penobscot Figure Skaters club became inactive, local skaters and the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department stepped in to partner with Sawyer Arena to bridge the gap.
“It was somewhat new for us, but it was pretty successful this year,” said Joe Nelson, Sawyer Arena rink manager.
The Penobscot Figure Skaters were active for many years, and produced annual skating shows at Alfond Arena or Sawyer Arena. Four or five years ago, that organization became part of the Skating Club of Maine, which was based in the Augusta-Hallowell area. Last winter, the Skating Club of Maine transitioned to the Skating Association of Maine, and Bangor area skaters decided to revive a local organization. During the summer, local skaters worked with the city of Bangor and Bangor Parks and Recreation Department staff to develop a new skating program at Sawyer Arena, skater Bridget Woodward of Bangor said in an email.
The new skating program, affiliated with the U.S. Figure Skating Association, offered two sessions, one before Christmas and one after. The second session attracted approximately 60 skaters, mostly children, a mix of boys and girls, ages 5 to 10, even though the program is open to those of all ages, including adults.
Nelson said he expects to see the program grow and sees it as a positive additional thing for the arena. “We want to get people on the ice to enjoy skating,” he said. “It’s one more program at Sawyer Arena that we run to offer the best opportunities for recreation.”
Arena Skating Director Katherine Fodnaess said the goal of the skating program is to make skating fun and keep it alive.
To that end, the program offers three levels of classes — learn to skate, intermediate and advanced. Each class consists of a 30-minute lesson and 30 minutes of supervised free skating.
Beginning skaters have the opportunity to learn hockey moves without using sticks or pucks, and Bangor HIgh School hockey team players serve as teachers and mentors.
The program is staffed by 12 teachers, all of whom have an enthusiasm for skating, Fodnaess said. “I’m always grooming teachers,” she said.
Skaters involved in the program will present the Sawyer Arena Skating Show, featuring approximately 80 skaters, at 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the arena. The event is free and open to all and free goodies and beverages will be available.
“We want to promote a sport families can do together,” Fodnaess said. “Instead of a rigid agenda, children can go to the next level when they are ready.” To encourage the youngsters, imagination is brought into play — a winding path is drawn on the ice for the young skaters to follow, a narrow “brook” is added for them to jump over, a stop sign is put up or an object is place on the ice for the skaters to bend down and pick up — all while gliding across the ice.
“We couldn’t do this without the support and help of Bangor Recreation,” she said.
For information, call the arena at 947-0071, Bangor Parks and Recreation at 992-4490 or go to www.bangorparksandrec.com.