Skating is a full-time job for Raegan Klein.
Even though she’s not always doing the skating herself, she’s one of several skating instructors at the Scheels IcePlex working to educate students of all ages in Sioux Falls on and off the court about the creative sport.
Klein either leads, coaches or helps five different activities at the IcePlex every week: Sunlight Skate, classes and ice time for children who are in homeschool or preschool; “Learn to Skate” classes for all ages; Theater on Ice; Hockey Academy; and, a new day trip program she hopes to start so more kids in schools can experience the wonder of ice skating.
Here’s what you need to know about all of the types of skating activities that are offered:
Sunlight Skate is modeled after the normal Learn to Skate program but is offered during the school day and is geared toward students in the homeschooling community, or for children who aren’t attending school full-time yet in grades K-12. The program includes classes and ice time.
She came up with the idea for Sunlight Skate because there’s a lot of ice time that isn’t used at the Scheels IcePlex. It’s something the skate club has wanted to try for a long time, too, but the timing wasn’t right until now as the club has grown and expanded over the years, Klein said.
While there are only two skaters in the Sunlight Skate group so far, Klein hopes that now that winter sports are picking back up again, that the group’s small start will snowball into something larger.
The youngest skaters in the program spend the hour-long class with a half-hour of instructive skating class first, and then a half-hour of free time. Then, the older skaters switch with the younger skaters, enjoying free skating time first before Klein leads them in a half-hour of instructive skating class while the younger skaters get free skating time.
Sunlight Skate is offered each month, once a week, one hour each week, at $88 for October and November sessions. December sessions are cheaper since there’s a week off for the holidays, at $66.
Learn to Skate
The youngest skaters in Learn to Skate are as old as 2, and the adult class has grown up to 12 students.
“I love to let people know it’s never too late to learn something new,” Klein said. “Skating is an amazing way to relax after a stressful day, and a great way to stay in shape.”
A 10-week session for Learn to Skate meets once or twice per week depending on one’s schedule. It’s $220 for an hour each week.
Theater on Ice
Klein is also a co-coach with Tasia Hillestad for South Dakota’s only Theater On Ice team, which practices on Thursday nights. The program combines skating, dance and theater into one competitive sport meant to enhance skaters’ rhythm, presentation and collaboration, Klein said.
South Dakota’s team has only made the national competition for Theater on Ice once, in Birmingham, Alabama, in June 2019. The team hasn’t gone to nationals since then with COVID-19 impacting large events. However, over the summer, the state’s team performed at the Ice Skating Institute Worlds Competition, Klein said.
Theater on Ice is more popular on the coasts, since figure skating isn’t always as trendy in the Midwest until the Olympics come around, Klein said.
In Theater on Ice, there are two types of programs. The first is a shorter program in which skaters portray a story with their bodies. Skaters don all-black outfits and nothing helps them tell the story except for their skating. Skaters use choreography and movements like dance to portray what they want to in skating formations, she explained.
The second type of program is longer, bigger and can involve props if skaters choose to do so, Klein said. Skaters can wear costumes to tell a story and perform a scene with either one song or multiple songs mashed up.
Theater on Ice has nine skaters so far this year and it costs them each $1,100 to join for the year. The cost includes ice time and registration fees for competitions, costumes, props, a team jacket and more.
Klein also works with the Hockey Academy, which started more than three years ago. Since hockey has grown so much in Sioux Falls with the Flyers and Stampede teams, Klein and her sister thought it was a good chance to help younger players find their footing, too.
For the middle and high school-aged students that play hockey, Hockey Academy helps them focus solely on their skating skills and helps them make sure they’re good skaters before they get into game play, Klein said.
“Great skaters make great players,” she said. “Other programs focus on gameplay, teamwork, stick, structure and goals, but never have time to break down all the fundamental skating skills.”
Hockey Academy meets once a week for 10 weeks at $220 per student.
With day trip skating, Klein hopes to start a field trip type of opportunity for daycares, elementary, middle and high schools as a new type of field trip opportunity for Sioux Falls. Students could get time with skating instructions, games and free time in their school day. She’s still working to reach out to groups who may be interested.
She also does private lessons, and coaches competitive skaters one-on-one, or two-on-one.
One of Klein’s skating students, Mary Kline, just passed the highest level in skating skills at just 16 years old. Kline, a junior at Jefferson High School and a member of the Sioux Falls Figure Skating Club, said she fell in love with the sport at a young age.
“I’ve been working for years on testing in a specific area of skating skills. It’s taken me four years to pass eight levels,” she said. “Only 3% of skaters pass that last level. It’s pretty cool to be part of that small percentage.”
Kline said she appreciates that skating with Klein has taught her lessons both on and off the ice.
“When you fall, you have to get back up,” Kline said she learned from skating. “Not only is it cool to say you’re good at such a unique sport, but it teaches you to overcome hard challenges and accomplish new things. It’s inspiring to see what you are actually able to do.”