Olympics Watch: Hawaii figure skater puts workout on ice

miyongThe 2014 Winter Olympics is underway in Sochi, drawing the attention of millions to sports on ice and snow.

The idea of participating in winter sports might seem exotic here in the islands. But for some Honolulu residents, such activities are as routine as swimming or surfing thanks to Ice Palace, Hawaii’s only ice rink.

Miyong Kim first visited the rink at 16 to attend a birthday party. She had watched televised figure skating competitions, and her interest in the sport kept her coming back.

Kim started to train, then compete in local and national circuits.

Now 33, she can attest to the sport’s many health benefits:

“It helps a lot with your core and your balance. Overall cardio – you get a good workout. You work everything. Your arms, your legs, breathing. Everything all at once.”

It’s not all physical either. Kim says figure skating is a stress reliever, especially after a long day at work. Everyone has their own way of unwinding. For her, it’s gliding across the ice and feeling the cool air.

Many sports have come and gone in Olympic history, but few have captured the attention and support of fans quite like figure skating.

Kim says what makes figure skating special is its unique combination of athleticism and art. Skaters perform to music, wear meticulous costumes and exhibit both incredible strength and grace.

“You kind of have to portray a character, depending on your music,” she said.

If you’re thinking about taking up competitive figure skating, there are some costs to consider. There’s ice time, coaching, equipment, travel and competition fees.

figure skating featureBe prepared to buy new skates and/or costumes about every two years.

For Kim, the costs are worth it. She plans to continue to push herself as much as she can. In her adult circuit, she has competed against skaters up to the age of 65 — so she has no plans of hanging up her skates anytime soon.

Is there a specific medal that’s keeping Kim on the ice? No.

Knowing that she’s participating in something uncommon for a Hawaii resident and experiencing the joys of the sport are gratification enough for her.

When it comes to this year’s Olympics, Kim is excited about the addition of team figure skating. She adds while she’ll be tuned in through the Olympics, she isn’t cheering on any particular skaters this time around. Kim’s favorite figure skater is an Olympian from another era: Michelle Kwan.

If you’re feeling inspired to hit the ice after the Winter Games, Kim suggests checking out the skate school classes at the Ice Palace to learn the basics and see if the sport is right for you. There is room for advancement and equipment rentals are available.

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