Don’t stop us now! The moment of truth!!!
By the third time I’d fallen on the ice, it began to feel less like a floor of… well, ice, and more like the usual surfaces I’d find myself tripping over. I pause for a moment to steady myself before someone from the ring helps me up, and I’m back on the blades again.
As I carefully scurry towards the safe side of the rink, I look around for a moment to see kids probably a decade younger than me glide effortlessly on the ice before they pull themselves into a Biellmann spin, or propel themselves into a double toe loop. Or, I think that’s what they’re called. There’s something entrancing about seeing these kids free themselves on the ice, while we clumsier older people struggle to keep our bearings. The ice has an allure to it, I guess – the kind that either inspires childlike wonder, or a drive to go beyond.
The venue is SM Mall of Asia’s newly opened ice skating rink, whose Olympic size is large enough to accommodate both kinds of inspiration — plus some amenities. There’s a digital scoreboard, penalty boxes for errant players, as well as two locker rooms (which include a hot and cold shower), a multi-purpose room for your social functions, and a clinic for those bumps and strains you might have gotten attempting that trick you probably shouldn’t have attempted. It’s basically has everything you need if you’re looking to pursue an ice sport, professionally or not.
In retrospect, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. After all, the first ice skating rink in the country did come from SM Megamall in 1992. And perhaps, with a little foresight on what was to come. “Mr. Henry Sy Sr., as an early fan of figure skating, had the vision to develop fully-equipped ice rink for sports and leisure activities in a time when tropical countries had not excelled yet in winter sports,” says Herman Medina-Cue’, SM Lifestyle Entertainment’s Chief Operating Officer. “Fast-forward to today. The Philippines is known to breed winning ice athletes.”
Hernan, however, notes that the landscape of ice sports has changed over the years, prompting the need for new upgrades. And while the project has been planned way before the country had begun gaining acclaim in the arena of ice sports — notably with the Philippine Ice Hockey Team’s win during the Southeast Asian Games, and Michael Martinez’ Olympic stint in 2014 — many of the amenities have been thought of with the athletes in mind, especially those with little support and resources to pursue their sport. The result is a rink perfect for training purposes – and for hosting games as well, be it locally or internationally.
But in the end, it’s really all about “[bringing Henry Sy Sr.’s] passion for skating to be brought to the Filipinos” who are able to “[experience] winter in a tropical country.” So while I’m far from being a Yuri Katsuki in the making, I continue gliding along with my fellow struggling first-timers. Who knows? I might be witnessing history in the making.