It’s now Week 3 of my summer Learn to Skate session. All is well, except one pressing issue that I have struggled with ever since I started teaching two years ago. My students never show up to class with gloves! This week, my ENTIRE class had either forgotten or refused to wear gloves on the ice. I was absolutely shocked and dismayed at this and immediately addressed the issue. Each student denied the fact that they were cold, despite one sheepishly crossing her arms, another shoving his hands into his coat pockets, a third pulling her sleeves over her hands, and a fourth blowing warm breath into his palms when I wasn’t looking. Although they claimed they were not cold, their actions spoke otherwise. I always carry spare gloves in my bag but unfortunately, I did not have enough for all seven students to borrow. It hurt my heart to see these young kids suffering from the cold which prevented them from having an enjoyable learning experience on the ice. Although I remind students and parents to bring gloves every week, there is always someone that forgets. I often feel like a broken record- constantly repeating myself about gloves. After two years of teaching, this issue clearly has not improved; in fact it has gotten worse. No pun intended, but this has gotten out of hand! I am tired of wasting time teaching my kids what to wear when I could be teaching them what they signed up for: learning to skate. Why do kids never show up with gloves??? Is it because they want to look like figure skaters who don’t wear gloves during competition? Or do they feel it is a nuisance to wear? Or do the parents simply just forget? It is time to address this issue of gloves, or lack thereof, once and for all.
I cannot stress the importance of gloves to figure skaters. They are critical for two main reasons: comfort and safety. When skaters’ hands are cold, they are uncomfortable and consequently have trouble focusing on their lesson. This negatively affects their experience on the ice because they do not learn or enjoy skating. Not only is this uncomfortable, it is also very dangerous. For instance, I have noticed many skaters who skate with their hands inside their pockets to keep warm. This is highly unsafe because skaters must skate with their arms out to their sides for good balance. Skating with proper arm position is an important aspect of the sport and is crucial for successfully completing elements. Also, without their arms out, they are more prone to tripping and falling. If skaters fall without gloves, they often choose not to use their hands to break the fall in attempt to prevent their hands from getting even colder. This poses a serious safety issue because they can fall on their face or injure other body parts without the protection of their hands. Wearing gloves can protect your hands from burning skin when hitting the ice and also protects from another skater potentially skating over your fingers if you fall. The Journal of Hand Surgery: British & European Volume (Aug 1990, p.349-351) cited that the use of protective gloves would help prevent potentially avoidable hand injuries. Over a six month period, there were 166 cases involving ice skating injuries and of this total, 60% were injuries to the upper limb- 28 were closed fractures and 24 were lacerations, mainly to the back of the hand. If gloves had been worn then the number of hand injuries would have been prevented or reduced.
US Figure Skating
SUPPORTS my GLoves campaign
I want all skaters to be in a safe and enjoyable learning environment but that is clearly not possible without gloves. I also want to further encourage and support the Special Needs/Therapeutic Skating Programs in my local area and provide gloves to these athletes with special physical and developmental challenges. This dilemma helped me create and launch the ‘Gloves for Love’ campaign. I will set out to solicit and collect new and gently used gloves and mittens for redistribution to skaters in my local skating programs. The purpose is to encourage and support the interest of skating by providing children with gloves to keep them warm and help make their learning experience on the ice more enjoyable. I plan to solicit and accept donations from my peers at school and my skating club as well as from sporting goods stores which have unused inventory. I’ll keep you posted on how to help out and donate. Thank you in advance for your help and support!