recreational ice skating



Anthony (Tony) and granddaughter Maddy Conte Thornton, after performing to “O Mio Bambino Caro.”


Tony, after skating to “Parisienne Walkways.”


Program Book

by Anthony Conte


I am an 86-year-old figure skater, who started skating at the age of 67, after a career as a pharmacist and pharmaceutical chemist.

I was always a fan of figure skating, but the long hours that my career demanded kept me off the ice. When I retired, I read “Figure Skating” by John Misha Petkevich, bought a pair of figure skates and took to the ice. My passion grew as my skills developed, skating at the Parkwood Rink in Great Neck, N.Y. There, I was on the ice with a young skater named Emily Hughes. Watching this young skater practice served as inspiration for me. It was obvious that she was an outstanding talent!

I skated three times a week and taught myself to spin, do single jumps and soon, I was choreographing my own skating programs. I passed by bronze test and ventured to Lake Placid for a week of adult skating. I skated my first exhibition there to Andrea Bocelli singing “Time to Say Goodbye.” The following season, I competed at the Cantiague Trophy Competition, and over the years I competed at Parkwood, The Worlds Fair Rink and at the St. Louis Skating Club Gateway Invitational. I also introduced my graddaughter Maddy Conte Thornton to figure skating, and she took to the ice with the same passion that I developed. She just completed her sophomore year at Dartmouth College and is a member of the Dartmouth Figure Skating team.

As the years passed, I became friendly with Emily Hughes. One of my avocations is oil painting, and I painted a portrait of both Emily and her sister, Sarah, the 2002 Olympic champion. When I turned 75, I decided to celebrate my birthday with an ice show. Emily was the headline skater. The cast included me, Maddy and some adult friends. My grandson, Bobby, and my granddaughter Tesea accompanied him on the piano. It was a wonderful event.

Over the next five years, I continued to skate and Maddy was really progressing, doing axels, double jumps, etc. She competed as a novice in the National Southwestern Regional Competition. In 2010, we again celebrated my birthday with an ice show, “Tony Conte’s 80th Birthday Celebration on Ice.” Again, Emily was the headliner and Maddy, me and my adult friends skated, while Bobby and and Tesea played the piano.

Fast forward to May 16, 2015, and again we produced an ice show to celebrate my 85th birthday, “Tony Conte’s 85th Birthday Celebration on Ice.” This show featured performances by me; Sara and Emily Hughes, and their nieces Alex and Charlotte; Maddy; my granddaughter Jesse Berman; former Senior National skater Diane Graser-Berman; Mayumi Yamamoto; two adult skaters who have competed at Adult Nationals; and young, competitive skater Rachel Breidbart. Tesea was the announcer and Bobby sang the National Anthem and “My Way,” the closing number of the show. It was a wonderful event and made my 85th birthday a very special day for me.

Since I put on a pair of skates at the age of 67, a whole new world has opened up for me — new friends, a passion for the sport … sort of a senior citizen renewal and passion that I find rewarding and enjoyable!

At the end of the show, all the skaters took to the ice and we each performed “Time to Say Goodbye.” I thanked the skaters and the audience and left them with a final thought — “Always Follow Your Dreams!”



8 replies to this post
  1. Proud to call you my Friend and to have spent many years skating at the rink with you… Skate On, Tony !!

  2. That is really a wonderful story. It certainly gets more difficult to skate as one get into his 80’s, but if you’ve done it most of your life it’s almost impossible to give up. So as you will understand some of us just keep coming to the rink and enjoy movement over the ice, the music that helps your skating rythyms, and hopefully some of the simpler dances we’ve enjoyed so much over so many years. Good luck, have fun and keep skating.
    Again, Great story!!

  3. A wonderful and inspiring story – thank you for sharing! As an adult skater who only learned to skate after 40, the learning curves are pretty steep. But it’s skaters like Tony and others in my city that keep me hopeful and motivated.

  4. What an inspiration! I am not even 67 yet so I have plenty of time to get on with it!! Just learning to skate backwards on one foot at the moment so this is VERY encouraging. Thank you Tony for sharing your story.

  5. I love this story on Tony! What a guy! I aspire to be like him as I mature…people who never loose their zest for life are inspiring!
    Keep up the great work Tony! And thanks Emily and Sarah, for your gracious support of Tony and his shows!
    Here’s to all of the adult skaters out there who find the joy and conquer their fear as they find their inner Olympian!!!
    Can’t wait to see all my adult skaters this fall!!!

  6. Dear Tony,
    PLEASE bring your wonderful family to Tennessee in April. We would be honored and will light you up with our stage lighting.
    Thank you also for sharing your passion for this sport.

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