At the cutting edge of her sport in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), figure skater Talia Reinstein is ready to take the next step nationally.
The 16-year-old Crawford International North Coast pupil recently placed first in the KZN U18 short routine section, but has yet to face inter-provincial competition.
Once over the age of 14, skaters need to pass technically difficult grades and levels to qualify for the South African championships.
“It’s a bit of an odd system where the third level – which I am currently on – is the most difficult of the five. There are a lot of salchows, hip twists and hydroblades, which together make for a tough test,” said Reinstein.
Compounding the difficulty is the distance that local figure skaters now have to travel to find a rink after the Durban Ice Rink was temporarily closed at the start of Covid-19 pandemic, and has yet to reopen.
“We have to go all the way to Amanzimtoti, so obviously it becomes a nightmare travelling so far to practice two or three times a week,” she said.
Skating is already an expensive sport given most schools do not offer it, and everything has to be funded externally through the club system.
Combined, these factors have thinned the number of skaters in the greater Durban area who compete, and Reinstein estimates that the community has dropped from around 60 to just 15.
The group includes Rachael Rodd (9), also from Ballito, who recently claimed second place in the SA championships.
Aside from the competitive and enjoyment aspects of the sport, Reinstein says it helps her deal with difficult times in her life.
“Suffering from dyslexia, I faced struggles at school when I started skating six years ago. It became my favourite escape then and that has continued. Everything is calm and peaceful out on the ice.”
Reinstein says skating will always be a part of her life, whether competing or coaching the next generation.
Once the tricky level three is behind her, the national stage no doubt beckons.
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