TOTS on ice

Youngsters learn basic skating skills

Above, Teacher Alyssa Kyllonen helps Michael Rasanen, 3, of Negaunee, on the ice Wednesday at the Negaunee Ice Arena. Ishpeming-Negaunee-NICE Community Schools held ice skating classes for tots and beginners beginning in October and ending Wednesday. At left, top photo, Michael Rasanen, 3, of Negaunee, takes to the ice. At left, lower photo, Lotus Karlstrom, 3, of Negaunee, learns basic skating moves. (Journal photos by Christie Bleck)

NEGAUNEE — When 3-year-olds are learning ice skating, you’re going to get falls, and Wednesday at the Negaunee Ice Arena was no exception.

However, tears or embarrassed looks weren’t the norm for the tykes doing all the falling.

Perhaps they were too young to be overly concerned about a physical gaffe.

It could be they didn’t feel much pain since they were well padded with helmets.

More likely, they were having too much fun.

Since mid-October, youngsters have been learning basic ice skating in weekly classes put on by Ishpeming-Negaunee-NICE Community Schools at the Negaunee Ice Arena.

One class was for tots ages 3 to 5 while the other class was for beginners age 6 to 12.

The students weren’t forming triple axels or layback spins, but who knows where their beginning skating career will take them? They had to start somewhere.

Sandra Weidlich, of Negaunee, had been taking her 3-year-old granddaughter, Lotus Karlstrom, also of Negaunee, to the sessions.

“She was very shy at first, and now she’s going out there and running,” Weidlich said.

She also had praise for the teacher, Alyssa Kyllonen.

“She’s got these kids on skates in, what, four or five weeks?” Weidlich said.

And they were single-blade skates too.

The simple moves her granddaughter first learned also have evolved into more moves.

“She’s just right into it,” Weidlich said.

On Wednesday, the students in the tots class were skating forward, propelling themselves along the ice.

Again, skating figure 8’s on the ice and intricate footwork sequences weren’t the goal here. Kyllonen had them play games like hockey and “Mr. Fox” as well as navigating a simple obstacle course.

Tots being tots, a little imagination was in order since the course involved dinging imaginary bells and traveling down an imaginary tunnel.

Sometimes a little urging was necessary.

“Go ahead, Lotus. Keep going!” Kyllonen said.

The teacher said the purpose of the class was to teach kids the fundamentals of skating, such as pushing, balancing, curves and dips.

“Three-year-olds are very young to start skating,” Kyllonen said, with boys taking a bit longer to develop than the girls.

It wasn’t a competition, though.

“The goal here is to just to have fun,” Kyllonen said.

For example, she blew bubbles for the youngsters to pop — all the while on the ice — so hand-eye coordination was a complement to being able to stand up on a slippery surface.

Michael Rasanen, of Negaunee, accompanied his great-grandson, also named Michael, to Wednesday’s tot class.

The younger Michael used a walker to help him across the rink.

“He has fun,” the older Michael said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is