When Erica Rand hit her 40s, she decided to do something that would probably make most adults recoil in horror.
She learned how to figure skate.
And she found that she loved it.
Rand, a professor of art and visual culture and of women and gender studies at Bates College in Lewiston, did more than just learn a few tricks on the ice. She immersed herself in the world of showy little skirts and professional blade sharpeners. She competed in the Gay Games and at the U.S. Adult National Figure Skating Championships.
|In her new book, "Red Nails, Black Skates: Gender, Cash, and Pleasure On and Off the Ice" (Duke University Press, $23.95), Rand explores in short essays themes such as gender issues in sports, the economics of skating competitions, and the need to make figure skating more inclusive. There's even a chapter explaining in detail the complicated scoring system used by figure skating judges.|
Rand, 53, lives in Portland and enjoys watching television and playing puzzle games in her free time.
But mostly, you'll find her out on the ice.
Q: Why did you want to learn to figure skate? Are you one of those people who can't miss watching the skating competitions on TV?
A: I love watching skating competitions on TV. I skated a little bit as a kid. Really, it was partly about moving to Portland. I had an idea that I was going to keep going to the Y in Auburn, where I had a nice community of people I exercised with.
One day something just made me think, "I want a pair of skates." I had my old childhood pair of skates, and when I moved to Portland I finally threw them out. And I don't know why, but one day I just thought maybe I'll buy skates. And I went and bought skates at Play It Again Sports. I said "Where's a rink?" and they told me about the Portland Ice Arena, which is four blocks from where I live.
I went, I skated around, I loved it. I started taking these adult classes, and it was just grown-ups. It wasn't like you were trying to learn how to skate with little kids. It was just a great environment, and I got completely hooked.
Q: Have you won any competitions over the years?
A: No (laughing). I've racked up very few awards. I came in third out of four at the Gay Games, in my age group and level. That was in 2006. I'm not the best competitor. I wanted to compete in the Gay Games, and then I kept competing partly for research. Some people thrive on competition. I do not thrive on competition, but there are things I really enjoy about it. So this year I competed at the U.S. Figure Skating Adult National Competition.
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