For Tomah eighth grader Aly Simon it was love at first skate.
That was 10 years ago when the now 14-year-old Simon put on a pair of skates and took to the ice for the first time at the age of four.
“I instantly fell in love…. I haven’t stopped skating since,” she said.
Simon, who is a member of the 7 Rivers Figure Skating Club, has come a long way since then. She’s gone from single to double jumps on the ice; from basic spins to flying spins. She has passed five of her eight required moves in her field tests and is working on the skills she needs to pass her novice test.
“My favorite thing about being on the ice is the way it makes me feel,” she said. “I love the adrenaline rush I get when I perform. I also love the accomplishment I feel when landing jumps and spins.”
Simon plans to continue skating through high school, with a goal of passing all eight U.S. figure skating moves in the field and free skate tests before she graduates. Looking further down the road, she hopes to be on a synchronized team or a hockey cheer team in college, where all the skaters are junior and senior level tested figure skaters. Beyond that, coaching is something she’d be interested in doing some day, saying that she’d love to be able to share her skills with others.
Club coach Lynn Martalock said Aly is currently the highest tested skater for the club for her age.
“She is a natural and a testing pro,” Martalock said, adding that Simon approaches testing as if it were her job. “She is always willing to work hard and excel (and is) very coachable; because of that she has had great success for her age.”
While it’s a love for skating that keeps Simon returning to the ice year after year, the sport has taught the Tomah Middle School eighth grader many life lessons along the way. Discipline, hard work and perseverance… just to name a few.
Simon currently spends five to eight hours each week on the ice. She competes in the Badger State Games each January and is currently preparing for a skating competition taking place in Eau Claire in March.
Simon says figure skating is unique from other sports in that its one of the few that requires testing in front of a judge to advance to the next level.
“Figure skaters have to demonstrate their skills and be awarded a passing number in order to move on,” Simon said, adding that in some instances, a skater is required to retake a test many times before they receive a passing score.
“It’s not an easy task,” she said.
And neither is balancing all her hours on the ice with the rest of life. In addition to figure skating, Simon also plays volleyball, does gymnastics and has over a 4.0 grade-point average in school.
“I have to work hard to balance my time,” she said. “Skating has taught me that by working hard and practicing a lot, I can achieve my dreams.”
In addition to the area skating competitions, Simon and other members of the 7 Rivers Figure Skating Club have been working since January on their numbers for the club’s annual ice show, taking place March 16 and 17 at the Tomah Ice Center.
Simon will be in three group numbers, a trio, and will be performing a solo piece.
She encouraged folks from the community to come out and see some of the skating talent in the area.
The 7 Rivers Figure Skating Club’s annual Ice Show will take place at 7 p.m. on March 16 and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 17 at the Tomah Ice Center, located in Tomah’s Recreation Park. Tickets for the shows will be sold at the door and are $5 for adults and $3 for kids age 12 and under.
“You will be amazed at the talent you’ll see from young children who are just learning to skate up to high school students who have been skating for many years,” Simon said. “I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.”