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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2003 02:20 pm

Skating club celebrates the holidays on, um, ice

Christmas tradition: Owen Irwin wore sparkly suspenders and Danielle Cooper had jingle bells on her skirt when they skated together at the SFSC Christmas show circa 1995. Now an advanced-level skater, Irwin will perform a solo this year. Cooper, now a c

For almost a decade, the Springfield Figure Skating Club has been ringing in the holidays with an evening of skating set to seasonal songs. Skaters of all ages and skill levels don their best Christmas spandex and choreograph moves to music that matches their festive mood.

For the skaters, it's a chance to let their hair down and ignore all the strict competition rules. They get to wear funny costumes, do silly spins, and not have to worry about including their most challenging jumps. For the public, it's a chance to see skating up close. Those inspired to try it themselves can take to the ice right after the show.

The exhibition is often preceded by carolers in the rink lobby. Santa himself usually appears for the grand finale. And while the Zamboni prepares the ice for the post-show public skating session, the skate club will serve cookies and punch.

Admission to the show is free. Admission to the public skating session afterwards is $4.50 for adults, $3.50 for children. But the rink will gladly waive this fee for anyone who donates three cans of food. Skate rental costs an additional $2.50. And for anyone bitten by the skating bug, the rink happens to have a new session of Learn to Skate classes beginning Jan. 10.

Springfield Figure Skating Club's annual Christmas exhibition begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, at Nelson Center's Rink 2 in Lincoln Park.

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