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Artist's Notebook -- Pasadena Ice Skating Center

July 21, 2009 | 12:00 am

July 17, 2009, Pasadena Ice Skating Center
Pasadena Ice Skating Center by Marion Eisenmann, July 17, 2009.

Young skater Emma Linde puts on a show.

Los Angeles has had a hot spell for the last week so I gave Marion a list of alternatives to Travel Town, which has an old streetcar I think would be an interesting subject--except that it's outdoors. We settled on the Pasadena Ice Skating Center, which was a pleasant way to spend a hot Friday afternoon.

The rink was once a ballroom and it retains many grand features, including elaborate chandeliers and large windows, which make a peculiar contrast to a big Zamboni waltzing around as it smooths the ice for the skaters. 

I got there a bit early and waited at the entrance with a dozen or so youngsters, evidently from summer camp, who were eating their lunches in the shade and waiting for the center to open. I noticed one of the young girls zipping around on a pair of shoes that have wheels in the soles like roller skates but I didn't give it much thought.

Once they got on the ice, it was a different story. The boys slowly groped along the outside rail, mostly keeping their balance but occasionally falling and sometimes a bit hard.

In the middle of a slowly circling herd of kids was an astounding girl of 9 who put on a fantastic show in the center of the rink -- like a tiny ice princess in a little skirt and pink sweatshirt.

It turned out she was the girl with the roller shoes and she put on quite a show for us; the first time I saw her skating backward at a pretty good clip I could hardly believe it. She was working with a coach named Scott Carson, a 1973 national gold medalist, who was in an oversized bright red parka, and like an opera singer who is "marking" in rehearsal, he made slight hints of movements that she carried out in full gestures. We watched her go through all her turns and polish what was clearly the big finish of a routine she was rehearsing. If I didn't know better, I would have thought I was watching a miniature adult. 

We learned afterward that her name is Emma Linde and she was getting ready for a competition in Burbank. Carson told me later that she placed first in her group and I wasn't at all surprised.

The fate of skating in Pasadena remains uncertain. The rink is moving out next year (in fact, I had the mistaken impression that it was already closed) and is hoping to build a new home. The Pasadena City Council will discuss the future of a new skating rink at 4 p.m. July 27, More information is here>>>

And, yes, in case you're wondering, Marion took artistic liberties by leaving out the Plexiglas shield around the rink. I plan to have more of her artwork in the future. In the meantime, you can contact her here.