Looking out to the center of the ice at the Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center one recent Tuesday afternoon, I saw figure skaters gliding across the ice with ease. It was beautiful to behold, and the scene whisked me back to my youth when my grandpa used to record Olympic figure skaters on T.V. for my sisters and me to marvel at. We’d gather around the screen, cheese-bread in hand, and watch those stupendous athletes with dropped jaws. I suppose he wanted to inspire us with the skaters’ grace, strength, and poise. He used to tell us: “Ice doesn’t care how old you are. Once you step on the ice, everyone is the same.”
Well, G-Pop, I said inwardly to my Gramps, get a load of THIS.
When he finally relented and took us skating after being inspired, that first time I stepped out on the rink and wobbled there on the ice for a moment, clinging to the wall. I did my best to channel my inner Kristi Yamaguchi as I inched around the perimeter, staying close to the wall all the while like a rice crispy on the side of a bowl.
Now as an adult, and making my way back to the rubber flooring surrounding the Yerba Buena Ice Skating rink, I still remember the wonderful chorus of sights and smells. Like the always reliable, ubiquitous hot chocolate vending machine, looking as if it had been there at the rink since the Center opened back in 1999. I hobbled over to it, skates still on. And with a beep-boop and a bop, my piping hot chocolate was ready in seconds.
It was far too hot to sip at first, so I sat down at a bench and watched the skaters swoop all over the ice, enthralled.
A group of three pals beside me were chatting about their afternoon activities at the rink. One guy said that he liked skating because he thinks it’s good to try new and challenging things. I was reminded of the great ice hockey classic, D3: The Mighty Ducks, when Coach Orion tells the Ducks about the virtue of confidence. He says to the team, “don’t be careless, but don’t be too careful either. You cannot be afraid to lose!”
Again, With Confidence
I gulped down my hot cocoa, which had cooled to a comfortable temperature by that point, and stepped out on the ice once again. Feeling centered and grounded, I released the wall from my clutches, and began to push off from one skate to the other, getting into a glide. As I built up some speed, a goofy grin began to form on my face, a byproduct of the unbridled joy I felt. My Grandfather was right; whether you’re 6 or 60, the ice doesn’t care. Only that you have fun like everyone else.
Yerba Buena Ice Skating & Bowing Center is open nearly every day of the year for Public Skating sessions, and offers a Skating School program, among others. It is located at 750 Folsom Street. Customer Service can be reached by phone at 415.820.3541 or by email at [email protected].