Interest in ice skating peaks every four years during the Olympics. The 2014 Sochi games might be over, but swirling figures on ice are still dancing in the dreams of young would-be Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the Olympic gold medalists in ice dancing.
Since 1975, the Columbia Figure Skating Club has provided area skaters with the opportunity to pursue both recreational and competitive skating. Each spring, Pat Muth, her daughter Martha, granddaughter Melissa, and a host of volunteers put many of these rising ice stars in a standing-room-only spectacle, this time around appropriately called "Frozen In Time," at the Columbia Ice Rink.
Imagine 90 skaters whirling around in colorful costumes to "Let It Go" from the Disney film. Or the movie characters Anna and Elsa capturing the Hans Christian Anderson's tale of "The Snow Queen" on ice. Artistic director Pat Muth has put together a fanciful skating tribute to both the film and the art.
Dozens of skaters were giving it their all at last Sunday's rehearsal in anticipation of this weekend's ice extravaganza. In nearly four decades of guiding and instructing ice skaters, Muth may have managed to maneuver more young hopefuls than were seen in the opening ceremonies at this year's Winter Olympics.
"Directing these shows has been a wonderfully rewarding experience," says Muth, who performed in skating shows as a teen but turned to teaching these skills to handicapped kids in 1972 when her family moved to Columbia.
She takes a lot of pride in the success of past ice shows, especially since they have launched many former students into professional careers in theater, dance, and, of course, ice skating.
"The production has gotten way bigger since we began these shows … and it takes up so much time," says the director as she twists around on her pink balletic skates and continues to talk while sliding backward.
Meanwhile, her daughter Martha leads a group of teen skaters in a sassy "Motown" routine, one of the four sections in the upcoming program. "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" echoes the singer as the teenage skaters carve out intricate patterns.
"I couldn't do these shows without the help of Martha and Melissa," both members of the professional company, the Next Ice Age in addition to their contribution to the shows at the Columbia Ice Rink. "My daughter is my right hand." She the points out how things have changed since our last interview when she insisted, "My granddaughter can jump around and do things on the ice that I no longer can manage." Now with her two new knees, the veteran is definitely a match for the younger skater.
So what's next for the grande dame of ice? "I direct 'Saphires,' a touring ice dancing troupe," Muth says. "There's always the next 'Nutcracker.' "
The following weekend, a large contingency of Muth's skaters will participate in the 25th anniversary celebration of the Next Ice Age, directed by Nathan Birch and Tim Murphy, who have a long history with the Columbia gang. A Friday evening fundraiser kicks off the festivities at Laurel Gardens Ice House with guest artist Dorothy Hamill and other international champions. For the NIA alumns and Columbia skaters, the highlight will be the Guinness Book of Records Skating Class event on Saturday, an opportunity to showoff skills for hours and hours, breaking the record of continual ice dancing.
Three of those potential record-breaking skaters include Grace Bloomfield, 17, Arissa Falet, 17, and Tess Terpos, 16, who skates the lead role of Cosette in the "Les Miserables" musical salute, yet another highlight in the show.
When asked if she would point out skaters who might be recognized in this article, Muth simply smiles. "We have had skaters go to Nationals in the past and we will in the future. I'm proud of them all."
The Columbia Figure Skating Club presents "Frozen In Time — On Ice" at the Columbia Ice Rink in the Oakland Mills Village Center Saturday, April 5, at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., with two more shows on Sunday, April 6, at 2 and 4:30 p.m. Tickets sell quickly; call 410-730-0322 or go to go to http://www.columbiafsc.com. Don't forget to bring a warm snuggly for the little ones to keep away the ice chills.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun