Glide Into This Figure Skating Course

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Published May 17, 2020
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The Montclarion
Mulligan and Orellana skate to Abba's "Dancing Queen," with their team. Mackenzie Robertson | The Montclarion

For students looking to fulfill their physical education requirement, but also pick up a new skill, figure skating might just be the way to go.

Montclair State University offers a figure skating class (PEGN 265) to its students interested in taking a stab at the ice. Held at Montclair State University Ice Arena, formerly known as Floyd Hall, students are split into two teams and together choreograph a program to perform at the end of the course.

The course is taught by Coach Kathy Ortolani, an original Disney on Ice skater and former ice dancer for Canada.

“We start out just learning basics,” Ortolani said. “Then halfway through we start working on a little synchronized ice skating.”

Ortolani teaches Mulligan how to properly execute a spin. Mackenzie Robertson | The Montclarion

Ortolani teaches Mulligan how to properly execute a spin.
Mackenzie Robertson | The Montclarion

Ortolani has a background in synchronized ice skating, a sport that has teams of eight to 16 skaters perform together on the ice. She explained that no figure skating experience is needed and all students were able to perform the synchro-program by the end of the course, which family and friends can attend.

“We had maybe three [students] who had never skated before,” Ortolani said. “You can see they were able to do the performance. The majority are average skaters, maybe some hockey players, maybe a couple of figure skaters, but most are average recreational skaters, but they worked together.”

Astri Orellana, a senior double major in biology and psychology, only skated once before signing up for this course.

“My goal from this class was to actually skate around the rink and into the center,” Orellana said. “I can definitely skate now.”

Josiah Rodriguez executes a spiral during free skate time. Mackenzie Robertson | The Montclarion

Josiah Rodriguez executes a spiral during free skate time.
Mackenzie Robertson | The Montclarion

Josiah Rodriguez, a senior family science and human development major, is another student who had very little skating experience going into the course.

“My family took me [ice skating] as a kid, but they never really taught me, so that’s all I really have,” Rodriguez said. “I needed a physical education requirement and I just felt like it would help because I am a dancer so it helps with balancing.”

Being a dancer, Rodriguez noticed changes in his performance in modern dance classes because of the skating course. He plans to continue ice skating.

“I literally love learning how to do turns and how to jump,” Rodriguez said. “Before, I would [ice skate] incorrectly and just act like I was ‘Ice Princess,’ the movie and I was just like ‘Okay I can do this.’ But then really learning it, I’m definitely gonna be showing moves on the ice whenever I public skate.”

Kathy Ortolani was a part of the original Disney On Ice team and skated ice dance for Canada. Mackenzie Robertson | The Montclarion

Kathy Ortolani was a part of the original Disney on Ice team and skated ice dance for Canada.
Mackenzie Robertson | The Montclarion

The one-credit figure skating course runs each semester twice a week and teaches basic figure skating and synchronized skating skills.

Colin Mulligan, a senior television and digital media major, didn’t have much experience going into the course, but wanted to try something new.

“I didn’t really know much about ice skating and I wanted to try something new and learn a new skill,” Mulligan said. “Now after taking the class, I’ve learned a lot and I got a good workout in every Tuesday and Thursday.”

Ortolani has been teaching the course for 19 years and enjoys working with new Montclair State students each semester.

Kathy Ortolani gets each team together for a group photo on the last day of class. Mackenzie Robertson | The Montclarion

Kathy Ortolani gets each team together for a group photo on the last day of class.
Mackenzie Robertson | The Montclarion

“I love it,” Ortolani said. “The kids are great, we have a lot of fun, we make friends and they go out to lunch after its over and they just have a great time.”

Students interested in learning more about the figure skating course can email Ortolani at ortolanik@montclair.edu.

“I only knew one person coming in here,” Mulligan said. “By the end of the class I made a lot of new friends, so it was a good experience in that we all got along together every Tuesday and Thursday.”

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