Reporting Bill Hudson
ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — They might skate on the same ice but the two sports couldn’t be farther apart. The rough-and-tumble excitement of professional hockey and the finesse and solitude of figure skating are in stark contrast.
“It’s a tough world to hold your own,” said figure skating coach Marla Polk.
As the director of skating at the St. Louis Park ice arena, Polk knows all too well — so long as the two sports don’t mix, everything’s fine.
“People want their ice and it’s never easy to give up,” said Winnipeg Jets forward Dustin Byfuglin.
But that’s what the veteran NHL player and his fellow hockey players had to do on Tuesday over an ice-time scheduling error. With the puck set to drop on the player’s scrimmage, it was coach Marla who had the ice sheet reserved. She had a private skating lesson to give and wasn’t about to wait.
“I mean, it did take a little courage to get out there and say — OK, who do I talk to, where do I go, what do I do?” Polk said.
So with ice water running in her veins Polk skated onto the ice and promptly told the guys, they’d have to go.
“I don’t think any of us was looking for any confrontation though,” recalls Minnesota Wild forward, Zach Parise.
It was over in an instant — no gloves dropped, just a lot of good natured laughs. The NHL’ers simply picked up and moved to an adjoining sheet of ice.
“All I saw was a group of players gathered around a figure skater. She did a good job, she was one against 40 and she shut us down,” chuckled Pittsburgh Penguin defenseman Paul Martin.
“It was a pretty bold move by her but you have to give her a lot of credit. It was pretty gutsy with 40 NHL’ers out there and she comes right out. Good for her for holding her own,” added Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cullen.
Coach Marla shrugs it off, saying it takes fight to be a figure skater.
“They were very nice. I thought the referee was going to throw the puck down anyway despite me being out there,” Polk said, with a laugh.