recreational ice skating


   Marsha Stout, 73-year-old ice skater    Marsha Stout, 73-year-old ice skater   Marsha Stout, 73-year-old ice skater

by Eileen Viglione

As a young girl, toiling away scrubbing floors in an orphanage, Marsha Stout never dreamed she would someday, in the latter years of her life, be soaring across the ice without a single care in the world, fully consumed by unbridled joy.

Today, at age 73*, the ISI skater is making up for her tragic childhood and all the lost time of simply being a happy-go-lucky kid. “It is the reason why I enjoy everything I do,” she said. “Skating is a wonderful activity, and I’ve embraced it 500 percent!”

Early Years

Growing up in a lower, middle-class neighborhood in Los Angeles in the 1950s, Marsha’s only form of recreation was running around barefoot in the streets. After both her parents died at a young age, she lived in foster homes before she was placed in an orphanage, or “institutionalized,” as she called it.

“At the orphanage, we had no opportunities for sports or any other recreation and little knowledge of the outside world,” she said. “I didn’t even know there was such a thing as skating rinks. After school, it was chores, chores, chores — worse than what you see in [Little Orphan] Annie.’”

Corporal punishment was standard practice. “They would beat the kids,” she said. “They used to not give us enough to eat and bribe us by withholding meals. It’s what I had to go through. I’m sure there’s people who’ve had it worse though.”

At the age of 19, Marsha got married, then had two children, completed college and became a high school teacher, instructing students in French and English. She later divorced and remarried.

Michelle Kwan

Fast forward to the 1990s, when her husband was watching sports on the television. “He called me over to see some child doing amazing things on the ice,” said Marsha. “It was the first time I had seen real ice skating, and I couldn’t believe my eyes! She looked like she was flying! It was 12-year-old Michelle Kwan; I thought to myself that someday I might want to try that.”

Later, when Marsha’s children were grown, she was helping care for her elderly mother-in-law, and then her husband passed away from Cancer. After she received her Medicare and Social Security benefits at age 66, her thoughts drifted back to the magical images of Kwan gliding on ice, and she decided it was her time to shine.

She called a rink 15 miles from her home, only to discover that the facility was closing in two weeks. She didn’t let that deter her; she immediately contacted another rink, 30 minutes farther — Toyota Sports Center. “I didn’t dare give them my age,” she said. “They told me that I had to wait until April because they had already started the winter session. I checked off days on a calendar like a kid waiting for Christmas!”

Finally, at 66 years old, she began her first class in an eight-week adult session. “There were 12 students, ages 16 to 24, and there I was, 66,” she said. “I could have been their grandmother. I had no aspirations of getting anywhere with it — it was just a challenge. I wanted to learn how to get from one side to the other without falling. Despite that I was older than everyone else, I went faster than they did, and I was the only one continuing on.”

Los Angeles (LA) Kings Valley Ice Center

Marsha began skating at Los Angeles (LA) Kings Valley Ice Center in Panorama City, Calif., in 2014. “They have adult classes and let any age take children’s classes; they group skaters by level rather than age,” she said. “I am definitely a product of ISI group lessons, aka skating school.

“We have a fabulous skating school, called Valley Edge Skating School, administered by terrific coaches, Janet Lee and Donna Hensley, and with classes offered three days a week for ages Tots through `Marsha,’ including a new Parent and Me class. There are classes for every level including beyond Axel.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of rinks, Marsha was taking four 30-minute classes on Saturdays: Power Skating, Advanced Adults, Advanced Intermediate and Transitions. On Tuesdays, she took a one-hour Figures class.

Marsha Stout, 73-year-old ice skater, with her coach

Marsha with coach Aimee Kravette

“For the past year, my coach has been the one and only, energetic, positive, supportive, encouraging and overall awesome Aimee Kravette,” she said. “I started testing in 2019 and have done several ISI competitions at my rink, competing in Freestyle 1 and Open Freestyle Bronze, and will do Freestyle 2 in June. I also have begun U. S Figure Skating and recently competed in Adult Pre-Bronze Freeskate.

“My goal is to work toward advancing as long as I can, and then, when I can’t advance, to just enjoy it for fun. I hope I have another three to four years to work toward advancing!”

Marsha’s favorite part about skating? “The camaraderie with older adults and the vibrant adult skating community,” she said. “Adult session-only is my favorite thing. I love the adult people, each one with their own backgrounds, and all supportive of each other.

“Also, I just love that feeling of flying — when you can just glide easily across the ice and go fast. It’s just such a lovely feeling. Also, when a person is skating, they are usually not thinking about anything else because you have to focus or you will trip. Whatever stuff is going on, it’s like an escape from that. While on the ice, you just focus on the pure joy of skating. I just love it. It’s a heathy physical and mental activity — I can’t think of anything better for your brain and body!”

When You are Inspired You Inspire Others!

“Here’s what’s happened since skating,” said Marsha. “Everywhere I go, people say to me: `You inspired me; I took classes because of you.’ Up until she died, Yvonne Dowlen was getting on  a plane and flying all over the U.S. for adult competitions. Before I started competing, I used to enjoy going and watching competitions. I just started competing in 2019. I had attended a competition as a spectator in Pasadena, Calif., and she was there. I had looked her up and knew who she was. After she got off the ice, I went up to her and told her how inspired I was by her. I told her a little bit of my story, and she told me a lot of hers. She said, `Marsha, you inspire me. If you’re ever in the area of Colorado Springs (she gave me her phone and address), come visit and we’ll go ice skating.’ She passed away, and I never got to skate with her.”


*This article originally appeared in the spring 2021 print edition of ISI’s Recreational Ice Skating magazine. “Golden Skaters” are Ice Sports Industry (ISI) jewels! If you are an ISI skater age 65 or older, we are interested in profiling you in our magazines.We want to share your inspirational ice skating story. Contact

Established in 1959, the Ice Sports Industry (ISI) — creator of America’s first learn-to-skate curriculum — is an international trade association encompassing all aspects of the ice sports industry. Our goal is to promote ice skating as a participant sport and recreational activity for everyone — all ages and abilities. For more information, visit

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