Halloween is just around the corner, but figure skaters don’t have to wait until October 31st to dress up
By guest writer Valerie Turgeon
photos courtesy of Valerie Turgeon
Figure skaters never have to wait until Halloween to zip up a skating costume and become a new character. We get to wear the most beautiful dresses and striking outfits during competitions—often decked out in Swarovski crystals, of course. And then there are also the more funky costumes, the kind worn for shows or exhibition events that are a little more eccentric and surprising.
I used to struggle with feeling shy in the spotlight and never liked the idea of performing. To get out of my shell, I had to put on a new one—in the form of a costume. Acting as a character got me comfortable with really performing, and not just executing the required elements. From a single eyebrow raise to finger placement to overall posture, in order to properly portray a character, it was all in the details. This benefited my freestyle programs as well, and overall, I learned how to treat skating like an art, rather than just a sport.
For my first skating costume, I dressed up as cat (always a popular Halloween costume choice) and skated to “Stray Cat Strut” by the Stray Cats. Oh, how ridiculous I felt walking around the rink with whiskers drawn on my face, and during my performance, I felt a bit tentative to paw the air and crawl on the ice. But how else can you tell a story without going all in? After some trial and error, I discovered that the best way to overcome this is to act even sillier, and to purposely make the audience laugh.
Among my more humorous routines, I once portrayed an Eskimo, and for once, I got to wear warm clothes during a program! I skated to a medley of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “Cold as Ice,” and ended by showing off my best hip-hop moves to “Ice Ice Baby.” (I learned that you can, in fact, break dance on ice.)
In another routine, my friend and I dressed up as skating icons Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek. We reenacted their 2008 Nationals performances, which resulted in a historic tie.
My costumes have spanned several decades as well: to the hit from the ’50s, “Pink Shoelaces,” I wore a poodle skirt, horn-rimmed glasses, and even dressed up a dummy (named “Dooley” in the song) as my skating partner. Fast forward to the ’70s, I dressed with a bit of a rock star flair, clipping in an orange hair extension, wearing black fingerless gloves, a black vest, and skating to Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” And, naturally, I played the air guitar during my performance. In the next decade, I skated to “Footloose” donning leg warmers, an off the shoulder shirt, and side pony, bouncing around the ice like I was in an ’80s workout video.
The list of costumes seems endless: I’ve been a surfer, doctor, fisherwomen, rapper, cat, Cinderella (before her trip to the ball, unfortunately), and so much more. I can thank these many characters for helping me fall in love with performing—and for growing my ever-expanding collection of Halloween costumes.
Team Riedell what is your favorite figure skating costume?
Tag us on Instagram @iSkateRiedell with a photo of you wearing your favorite costume, and we may feature it on our page!