Hartshorn, Sweiding initiate rink study in pinkVeteran adagio duo spends holidays skating in Boca Raton, Fla.
"We love going around the world," said adagio skater Frank Sweiding, a two-time U.S. pairs silver medalist and world team member. "The great thing is it always stays fresh. Then you're meeting more and more people and you look forward to the next project."
For the holiday season, Sweiding, 59, and longtime on- and off-ice partner Anita Hartshorn, 57, are enjoying a very sweet gig -- overseeing a seasonal ice rink at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Fla. This year, the resort has introduced the Pink Rink, a beautiful, tented 40x80 surface where guests and club members can skate.
In addition to making sure the ice, which is indeed painted pink and enhanced with pink lighting, stays in top condition, Hartshorn and Sweiding also teach learn-to-skate classes and private lessons. They've also performed exhibitions for private gatherings.
"Then on the holidays -- Thanksgiving weekend and the last two weeks of December -- we do a show where we have four other skaters join us," Sweiding said. "We do a 30-minute show twice nightly."
The skaters joining them are Ty Cockrum, longtime performer with Ice Theatre of New York; Angela Kim, a professional skater and aerialist who performed with Aerial Ice on America's Got Talent; Anna Cobb, a national showcase medalist; and Alex Wilfand, who has skated with Disney on Ice.
"The show is really intimate because we're right up there with the audience," Sweiding said. (There is bleacher seating for 165 people and 20 tables on the side that seat five people each.) "We're trying to bring great skating up front and close to people so they really get to experience it.
"Anita and I host the show," he continued. "We explain a few things about skating to the audience, and we try to educate them a little bit. Mainly, of course, we're entertaining them and trying to expose them to some great skating with a holiday theme.
"Anita and I are blessed. Here we are; we're skating at a resort in the wintertime."
It's been a busy past five years for the ageless duo. They spent two and a half years in Berlin, Germany, with a large production show of which skating was a part. Then they spent a summer in Sun Valley. Then it was off to an ice show in Eilat, located at Israel's southernmost city, a popular resort area by the Red Sea, where they swam every day during their year and a half stay. From there, it was a year in Cologne, Germany, with another show before heading to Boca Raton.
"Of course, we've taken a couple of weeks or a month off here or there," Sweiding said. "We look at a map and say, 'Let's try to figure out some new place we can go.' Then we go where opportunity knocks."
In addition to performing, Hartshorn and Sweiding are veteran show producers and directors with their company, Glacier Ice. Among their longest gigs are shows at Phantasialand in Brüh, Germany, where they're in their 17th season of putting on ice shows at the theme park. They'll be back there in March putting together a new show. It seems likely they'll head directly to Brüh from Boca Raton. As the Pink Rink has proven so popular since its opening in November, there's talk of extending it into February.
Hartshorn will be having hip replacement surgery on her left hip at the beginning of the year but vows to return to performing as soon as possible. The duo thrive on inspiring people that age isn't an obstacle. A suggestion that they become longevity coaches was met with enthusiasm.
"We'd love to get into that niche," Sweiding said.
For now, there are shows to do and a sense of genuine enjoyment for the project at hand.
"Guests walk into the rink and they think it's magical," Sweiding said. "It's an adventure."