Elm Grove's Marcia Richards lays claim to two gold medals.
The memory of those glory days is still fresh in the 66-year-old's mind - after all, the competition was just three weeks ago.
Richards, who first donned a pair of skates at age 51, earned top finishes for her artistic routines at the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Nationals, held this year in Illinois. She competed in the Bronze Adult V category, made up of adults 61 and older.
"This is age group V, but those of us in it call it '61 till death,' " she joked.
"This year it was really, really special," Richards said of her first-place finishes, earned in front of a 400-plus person crowd. "I did really well, I was really surprised."
Finding new life in retirement
Richards started figure skating after she retired. Used to working 60 to 70 hours a week as a physician, she needed to find ways to stay busy.
So, she signed up for skating lessons at the Pettit National Ice Center.
It was love at first glide.
The sport was challenging, artistic and expressive.
She quickly began to create original programs, which she decided to share with others through adult figure skating competitions.
Programs include comedy, creativity
It is not the performance that drives Richards' passion; rather, it is the process of putting a program together. It's everything from cutting the music to selecting a costume.
She won a gold medal this year with a routine based on African dance in the artistic drama category. She worked with a dance instructor for months to add African movement to her creative repertoire, which she then translated on ice.
Her second gold came in the artistic comedy category, and she drew her inspiration from her own life.
In an effort to challenge herself, she had taken ice dance classes, which turned out to be a bit of a struggle. She turned that struggle into comedic relief as she created a program that pokes fun at the traditional ice dance techniques, such as mimicking hoedown-style moves on ice.
"It's a really fun program," Richards said. "People love it, and I enjoyed doing it."
The judges also loved it, and she went home with the gold.
Forming bonds on ice
Winning medals is an added bonus for the adult skater. When she first started taking lessons, her goal was to make friends post-retirement, since many of her relationships had formed at the workplace. Through competition, she now has friends across the United States.
"Skating to me is about the creativity, it's about the exercise, and since I retired I made friends through skating," she said. "I'm thinner than when I worked, I'm in better shape than when I worked and I needed something to make friends."
Richards recommends the sport for people of all ages - she's skated with 80-year-olds before, she said. And there are numerous adult skaters in the area, though few compete.
Besides being a good form of exercise, Richards said, the pushing movement used by ice skaters reverses osteoporosis and increases balance.
Skating comes with its fair share of difficulties as it's a highly physical sport; however, it also teaches adults how to fall properly and pick themselves back up again, Richards said.
"I'm not particularly athletic, but I dearly love it," she said. "For adults, it's a wonderful thing; you don't have to compete, but a lot of people skate and it's good camaraderie."
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