OLYMPIC ZONE: Figure skating in Knoxville
KNOXVILLE, TN (WRCB) -- Figure skating is on of the most popular sports during the Winter Olympics. While many around the Tennessee Valley enjoy taking a spin on the ice. They must travel at least a couple of hours since Chattanooga doesn't have an ice rink.
The road to becoming a professional skater doesn't always start in cold weather states. All you need is a little ice and a lot of motivation. That type that can be found at the Ice Chalet in Knoxville, TN.
"We've probably had 30 skaters from this rink join ice shows and tour all over the world," said Ice Chalet owner Larry LaBorde.
Odds are most of them were taught by LaBorde.
As was the case for Kassandra Hazard.
When she's not touring she's here passing her knowledge down, "everybody has something different about their personality that they can bring on the ice. That is the most enjoyable thing for me as a teacher to see," said Hazard.
As LaBorde will tell you it takes more than just one lesson to dance on ice. That's good news because the Ice Chalet has you covered almost year round.
"April, May and June we died and lost a lot of money. This was back in the 80's we decided to close during those months. Now we're bridging that gap. Our programs are closing that gap to where we're now open for almost 11 months a year," said LaBorde.
LaBorde has been with the Ice Chalet for 47-years. He started sweeping floors as a teen and now owns the place. In addition there's not much he doesn't do, everything from teaching to running the zamboni.
LaBorde said, "it's been great. I was telling a friend the other day, I don't think I've worked a day in my life."
It makes his 24-hour shifts more than worth it, especially during the Winter Olympics, "every four years because we are a winter sport we capitalize on that. Our staff is bigger."
Hazard said, "we get people coming in all of the time wanting to do classes or just skate with friends because they see stuff on TV and they think it's fun and they wanna try it."
Fun but equally challenging.