Something you may not know about figure skating: it makes a difference whether you are left-handed or right-handed.
“Right-handed skaters spin and jump to the left,” said Hannah Houle, 18, of Redwood Falls.
As it happens, Houle is a left-hander who has spent the last eight years training to skate as a right-hander.
When the Redwood Area Community Center arena has ice, Hannah skates an average of an hour a day, rehearsing her routines.
“I do skating more for recreation, but I have competed. I do better when I’m competing — I’m more motivated,” she said.
Hannah averages two contests a year. The most prestigious so far was the ISI world competition last August, where she competed with and against skaters from as far away as Thailand.
“My dad helped set up the hockey program, and he had me in ice skates when I was three years old,” said Houle. “I think he intended me for hockey, but I wasn’t too interested.”
Instead, figure skating became her passion. She stared taking lessons eight years ago, when she was 10.
“I like the expression of skating, the artistic as well as the technical,” she said last week.
It seems the figure skating world is sort of like martial arts — you have to work your way up through a series of skill levels.
The ISI goes up to 10 levels of skating skill: in freestyle skating, Hannah is up to level eight, and still needs to demonstrate landing a triple and a double-axle to get to the next level.
Hannah, who is currently taking classes through Minnesota West Technical College, hopes to go into a health-related field when she starts college next year.
She said she would love to continue to compete at the amateur level. Going pro, however, “would be very expensive. I’d have to get a sponsor,” she said.
Still, she said she hopes to audition for Disney on Ice someday.
Most skaters can only skate competitively for a few years in high school and college, so Hannah knows her time in contests is limited.
“But skating is something you can do for life,” she said. “You can always become a coach, and expand your knowledge.”