VERNON HILLS, Ill. - Crystal Lake resident Cindy Crouse, 64, is about to compete in the US Adult Figure Skating championships against women a third of her age.
Wednesday morning, Crouse stepped onto the ice at the Glacier Ice Arena in Vernon Hills, where she becomes a kid again.
"This is called a broken leg spin," Crouse explained as she twirled on the ice. "You don’t want to break your leg. You just want it to be nicely bent."
Five times a week, Crouse comes here to practice with her skating coach as she prepares to compete in the US Adult Figure Skating championships in Delaware against skaters of all ages—most of them young.
"We’re standing on the platform and someone will ask me, will take a look, how old are you? And when I tell them they’re ‘oh, you’re my grandmother‘s age.’ And I think oh boy," Crouse remembered.
Crouse learned to skate as a kid growing up in Edison Park, but quit at 14.
She didn’t lace up the skates again until she was 47.
"I decided I needed something to get me out of bed in the morning, to really motivate me," Crouse said. "So I got a coach, and she said ‘hey, have you ever thought of competing?’ I thought who would I be competing against? Michelle Kwan? I had no idea."
Since then Cindy has been a regular finalist at the adult national championships, winning once. Her coach, a former Olympic figure skater himself, says he’s amazed that she’s still getting better with age.
"Obviously her age, and to achieve what she does at the age she is, is ridiculous to be honest with you," said coach Chris Howarth. "Crikey, I competed at the highest level. I’m younger than her. And I wouldn’t try half of what she does."
Crouse said she has no plans to retire from competitive figure skating. In fact, she’s hoping to win another championship with some new moves.
"I’ve been working on my double jumps. I have one that’s fairly consistent, but I’d like to get a few more. So my goal is to have those before I turn 70," said Crouse.
Crouse turns 65 in May and is retiring from her full-time job, giving her more time for the ice, which warms her soul.
"Nothing makes you feel like a rockstar like skating does. There is such a freedom to it. When you’re on the ice you’re just, you feel like you’re flying. It’s amazing," said Crouse.