Figure skating club enables residents to share dedication to sport

FOR 25 YEARS, Patricia Muth has been artistic director of the Columbia Figure Skating Club. She helps run an organization that provides youths, and sometimes their parents, with an outlet for their passion.

"These children are so busy. Such an intense involvement," said Charles Buckler, who is a member of the club with his wife, Alicia Buckler-White, and two daughters, Amanda and Amy. "They don't go to the mall. They don't watch television. They don't hang out. They skate, they do homework and they sleep. And they get up at 6 in the morning to go skating again."


Muth, an Oakland Mills resident, understands her students' dedication firsthand. She put her first pair of skates on when she was 8. "It was like eating a can of peanuts. I just couldn't get enough of it," she said.

Formerly a skating hobbyist and stay-at-home mom, Muth moved to Columbia in 1971 with her husband, Philip, then a city planner with the Rouse Co., and her four children, Margery, Frank, Martha and Philip III, who died in 1995.


She co-founded the Columbia Figure Skating Club, which rehearses and performs at the rink, in 1972. A member of the U. S. Figure Skating Association, the club is a 150-member strong nonprofit group.

Seventy-five percent of the youth members perform in regional competitions, which requires a lot of practice, Muth says. "Even at age 5," she said, "you need to skate four to five days a week at least an hour a day."

Muth says the work pays off -- "the thrill when you finally do get something that you've worked on for two years. The high that you get from that is unbelievable."

"Sometimes, it can be frustrating," Amanda Buckler said, "but most of the time, I have fun doing it. And I guess it's a good feeling to be able to go out and land a hard jump."

Amanda, an Oakland Mills High School sophomore, has skated with the club for 11 years. She is one of the club's four USFSA senior-level competitors, the highest of five levels in a national ranking system. She skates seven days a week, two to three hours daily when school is in session and five hours daily during summer months, according to her mother. Rachelle Weisberg, whose 10-year-old son Jason skates with the club, once asked him what ice skating does for him. "This just brought tears to my eyes," she said. "I said, 'Jason, what do you feel like when you're skating on the ice?' He said, 'Mom, I feel free.' "

Weisberg, an Owen Brown resident, is one of the club's board members. Her daughter Shana, a 9-year-old Talbott Springs Elementary School pupil, also skates with the group.

At 67, Charles Buckler is the club's oldest member. Buckler, who returned to the sport after skating recreationally as a child, encouraged his wife to take lessons in 1986 so she could take Amanda, then 3, skating.

"I was 40 when I first put skates on, and, you know, that's not a good mix," said Buckler-White.


Her instructor, Pamela Pittman, an Owen Brown resident, suggested that she join the skating club, which had fewer than 20 members at the time, because "it was safer skating on club ice" than at crowded group lessons.

Appearing in the club's show "Swing into Spring with Music, Music, Music" will be 135 members. The presentation will feature routines set to music from the 1940s to 1990s.

Muth choreographed the show with fellow club coaches Rob McBrien, a Baltimorean, and Michael O'Rourke, a Catonsville resident; guest choreographer Kristan Waggoner of Annapolis; and student choreographers Amanda Buckler; Anna Campos of Laurel; and Samantha Huntt and Allison Barber, both Ellicott City residents.

The spring show will be held at 1 p.m. and 4: 30 p.m. April 1 and April 2 at Columbia Ice Rink, 5876 Thunder Hill Road.

Tickets are $8.50; children younger than age 3 will be admitted free.

Information: Donna Burrows, 410-461-9948.


Foreign fest

Hammond High School held its second foreign language festival Wednesday. Sponsored by the school's Spanish, French, German, and Italian clubs, the event featured ethnic music, crafts, and foods and performances by club members.

An estimated 300 students attended the after-school event. The festival was coordinated by Kristen Frohnhoefer, the Spanish Club sponsor and a Spanish instructor at the school, and Spanish Club members, including these juniors: club President Rachel Pearl, and Vice Presidents Chris O'Shea and Jessica Porter.