Consulting can be tough a gig, but lately, landing a Lutz is what’s been keeping Angela Edwards on her toes.
The president and CEO of Castle Thunder Consulting in Glen Allen spends her days advising and coaching businesses in finance healthcare, retail, construction, manufacturing, IT and other industries.
Most of her other waking hours are spent on the ice following her love of competitive figure skating, bumps and bruises be damned.
Edwards, who is in her 40s, is at the rink almost every day, and when she’s not practicing, she’s competing in singles, figures (tracing prescribed shapes on ice) and synchronized (groups of 8-20 skaters) events in competitions throughout the country.
“Singles has always been my first love,” says Edwards. “The best part is when you’re out there alone before the music begins. I know that what I do there is all mine.”
Growing up in Richmond in the 1970s – when ice rinks came and went – Edwards kept things moving on roller skates, before realizing she was a natural jumper.
At Virginia Commonwealth University, she satisfied the urge to go airborne as a cheerleader.
“Anything I could do that involved flying in the air was something I was happy doing,” she said.
After graduation, with ice finally predictable in Richmond, she gave ice skating a whirl. Something clicked. She took more lessons, found a coach and began to compete and win medals at local, regional and larger competitions.
Adult skaters compete under the auspices of U.S. Figure Skating, and are categorized by age and ability determined during tests. She’s currently skating at the Bronze level and says she’s working to test up to Silver right now.
Competitions are held throughout the country, and routines can last from about 90 seconds to several minutes. And when teams travel to competition, stress is high.
“Everybody has their own way of dealing with stress before a competition. Some want to talk, some don’t want to get close to anybody. But everybody is stressed.”
True to her airborne roots, Edwards says she loves jumps, the Flip being her favorite.
“But the Lutz seems to be my nemesis lately,” she said, adding that it takes 5,000 to 10,000 repetitions to begin to build the muscle memory for certain moves.
To stay in competition shape, Edwards cross trains at a gym and then spends as much time on the ice as possible, skating every day if she can get rink space at Skate Nation Plus or Richmond Ice Zone. Friday nights are for team skating. She buys passes for the ice, with a 30-minute session starting at around $9.
That’s the inexpensive part about the hobby. There are club dues; coaching can run $50-100 an hour, costumes are about $400 a season; travel and competition expenses add even more. “You really have to love it,” Edwards admits.
Forget about rental skates like the rest of us use.
Edwards said her skates can run up to $1,500 and many Richmond skaters usually travel to Fairfax or to Waldorf, Md., to get fitted for boots, repairs and adjustments, and even for skate sharpening. She prefers the pro shop at Fairfax Ice Arena for her skates.
“Getting properly fitted for boots and having someone who knows how to mount the skater’s blade to the boot is really important. The position of the blade on the boot is specific to the skater’s natural point of balance.”
All the money and time are worth it, she says – except when she’s injured. Falls are a part of the sport, especially when trying to perfect certain tricks.
“In synchro, it can be interesting. You hear someone falling and your blades can get tangled and you’re just thinking, ‘I hope I’m not next.’”
She took a bad fall last year that bruised knees and hips, sprained a shoulder and gave her a concussion. Before that, a spill resulted in an arm broken in three places and a doctor who encouraged her to quit skating. She thought about it for a split-second.
“But I said no. This is what I do. Find a way to make it happen.”
This story is the latest in a recurring feature called Downtime, focusing on how businesspeople in Richmond spend their time when they’re out of the office.