“Skating is like flying when you do it effortlessly” Figure Skating Club of Madison paves way for future Olympians

Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen has been figure skating with the same coach for more than 10 years.
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 6:26 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen has been figure skating with the same coach for more than 10 years. It is not uncommon for figure skaters to have the same coaches for more than a decade, even at the local level. The Figure Skating Club of Madison highlights the importance of a strong bond between coach and skater, both on and off the ice.

“Skating is like, it’s like flying almost when you do it effortlessly, and you can flow through these jumps and spins. It’s the closest thing that I could describe to flying,” Madison Figure Skating Club Instructor Trish Offerdahl said.

For more than 4 decades, Offerdahl has been flying on rinks around the world, including at the Madison Ice Arena.

“I started when I was 10, which is actually very old. For a competitive skater, most of the competitive skaters start around between like five and eight,” Offerdahl said.

Katelyn Smecko was one of those kids who started taking lessons from Trish. Two decades later, Katelyn has learned in order to fly, you are bound to fall.

“I mean, it’s a lot of falling and getting back up in just carrying on and continue to try,” Smecko said.

Trish coaches Katelyn and her teammate and tried for a spot in the Olympics, making it to the Sectional Competition.

“Oh, it was crazy. It was awesome. Like, me and another girl were the very first Figure Skating Club of Madison people to go to sectionals,” Smecko said.

Now, Katelyn is following in Trish’s figure skates and coaching the next generation of skaters.

“Oh my gosh, she’s fantastic. She’s like my daughter where we I mean; we sort of team teach together so she works with a lot of my kids,” Offerdahl said.

“Trish was my coach, and she brought me into it. And now I’m up and coaching and bringing these younger kids up into it,” Smecko said.

The coaches said the physically demanding sport is always in greater demand during the Winter Olympics.

“More kids see the sport and then they want to get in it because I mean, you don’t necessarily think about skating all the time, and especially as a summer sport. So, wintertime comes definitely Olympic season, but I think just winter in general to the skating definitely increases,” Smecko said.

While they hope to coach the next figure skating Olympian from Madison, the true love for the sport comes from the training to get there.

“The practice time, the training time. If you’re a great skater, that’s what you live for,” Offerdahl said.

NBC15′s Maria Lisignoli decided to get some practice time in at the Madison Ice Arena and get some pointers from the coaches. This was her first time figure skating and it was harder than she thought!

Maria Lisignoli tries figure skating.

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