Indian kids learning ice skating from foreign coaches at Gurugram

Olympian coaches from countries like Austria and Russia are currently teaching Indian children the basics of Figure Skating, Long Stead and Short Stead skating at the ISkate ice skating arena at the Ambience Mall here.

In India, where ice skating is still in the nascent stages with only six indoor ice skating rinks and four outdoor rinks, such exposure can be hugely beneficial to develop the sport in the country.

"Ice skating has immense potential to grow in the country. We help in promoting the sport by providing specialised coaches and trainers. We even promote ice skating amongst special needs kids and sent trainers with them to Austria for the Special Olympics, 2017 where they won three medals," Karan Rai, Operations Head of ISkate, said.

He added: "There has been a surge in the popularity of ice skating in the country. We alone have served 1.6 million customers in the past six years (ISkate opened in December 2011). We have kept our prices low in order to make ice skating more affordable for the common man. We have partnered with the Ice Skating Association of India and also the Ice Hockey Association of India (ice hockey is also played in the arena).

One of the coaches teaching there, Manpreet Marhas said: "I have been teaching ice skating since 2003, and I firmly believe that India is capable of performing at the international level if the required infrastructure and funds are provided by the government."

Marhas himself has represented India in international competitions in countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Spain. He also supports two underprivileged kids, Ayush Gupta (current national champion in his category) and Vinay, so that they can follow their passion of ice skating.

Luba, one of the foreign coaches at the facility, is a student at JNU who comes every weekend. She sings praises of her student Lavanya, a seven-year-old, and hails her as a prodigy.

Lavanya has been learning Figure Ice Skating since the last two years and Luba has full faith that she will make her country proud.

Svetlana Akhmeroua, a Russian coach at the facility, says that if Indians improve the infrastructure and develop a passion for the sport, in 20 years the country may bag some medals.

"Its a little difficult for India to start winning medals at the international level immediately. It will take at least 20 years for the results to start improving.

"It is a little difficult for the sport to be promoted in a country with very less snowfall. The government should focus on building ice rinks in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai etc in order to promote the sport," she said.