CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. — Cindy Crouse of Crystal Lake rediscovered a love for figure skating decades after hanging up her ice skates.
“I didn’t skate for over 30 years,” Crouse said. “Then my niece wanted to skate and no one wanted to get on the ice. And everyone said, ‘Hey, have Aunt Cindy take you.’ So I did. And she turned out to be kind of like a board hugger and I just fell back in love with it.”
Crouse, 64, is now one of the oldest women in the country to compete at the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships – an event sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating. The event was held in Delaware in April.
This year she was at least 20 years older than the next oldest competitor – and nearly 40 years older than most of the others. But, she was one of only four — out of 250 — to qualify for the championships from the Midwest region.
“The other skaters will look at me and say, ‘Do you mind my asking how old you are?’” Crouse said. “And when I used to tell them, they would say ‘Oh my gosh, my mom is your age.’ And now they say, ‘Oh my gosh, my grandmother is your age.’ So, I feel like I must be doing something right.”
Her coach, Chris Howarth, a former British national champion skater who competed in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, marveled at Crouse’s age-defying grace on the ice.
“She’s still improving at age 64. It’s like she’s defying the age process or something. I don’t know,” Howarth said.
Crouse practices about five times per week at the Glacier Ice Arena in Vernon Hills, where teenage skaters are also impressed.
“You would never be able to tell she is 64-years-old,” Madeline Strom said.
Crouse, who is approaching retirement from her position as the CEO of the International Association of Diecutting and Diemaking, said she wants to be an example that you’re never too old to follow your passion.
“Skating is the closest you can come to flying and feel powerful without actually leaving the earth,” she said. “If you can find something, you’re passionate about, then you should pursue that as long as you possibly can.”