Gliding Together

Dad and daughter bond through a shared love of skating

By Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz

Rob and Alice Zinsmeister pose in front of a Hershey Figure Skating Club sign. Alice is a young girl wearing a log sleeve black shirt with a turquoise stripe across the front, black pants and grey and pink shoes. She stands holding one leg up in the air. Rob is a man with red hair wearing a long sleeve grey shirt.

Rob Zinsmeister always loved skating. From 1996 to 2004, he competed at the novice level, and today, he is still a proud member of the Hershey Figure Skating Club in Hershey, Pennsylvania. But ask this dad what he loves most about skating, and he’ll tell you, sharing it with his 9-year-old daughter Alice.

Alice Zinsmeister, a preliminary-level skater, has been skating for three years. She is also a member of the Hershey Club and, as her dad notes, shares a unique distinction.

“Alice is the third generation to be a Hershey Figure Skating Club member,” Rob Zinsmeister said. “My mother was, my sister and I were, and now Alice is.”

Rob Zinsmeister also competed a the U.S. Championships in the junior division three times, twice in novice men and once in juvenile pairs. Although he no longer competes, he still belongs to this special club, volunteering on ice for the club’s many events and, when time permits, skating on open skating time with Alice.

For Rob Zinsmeister, just being back on the ice and sharing in Alice Zinsmeister's joy made him fall in love with skating again.

“It’s usually a mom and daughter thing, and I’m the singular dad out there,” Rob Zinsmeister said. “People ask if Alice’s mom is a skater. She’s actually a ski instructor, so skating is a dad thing,”

Alice Zinsmeister, who loves to spend any time on ice and especially loves competing, finds she learns much from her dad.

“If he tries a jump, I’ll try that jump,” Alice Zinsmeister said. “I love jumping and footwork. I just feel free when I skate, and when I’m skating fast, I feel like I’m flying.”

Alice Zinsmeister trains with coaches Maria Pocheykina and Oleg Petrov at Hershey and is incredibly proud of the medals she’s won.

“It helps being her dad, knowing I went through all of these things as a skater,” Rob Zinsmeister said. “Knowing what I went through and then passing it down. Channeling your energy. How not to let your nerves get the best of you. I love sharing that with her. Having someone I’m so close to who loves skating as much as I do makes me want to do it all the more.”

Rob holds Alice up on the ice. Alice is a young Alice is a young girl wearing a log sleeve black shirt with a turquoise stripe across the front, black pants and grey and pink shoes. Rob is a man with red hair wearing a long sleeve grey shirt.

This dad and daughter, who live nearby in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, share a very special love for their club and spend countless hours volunteering at events, as do Alice Zinsmeister's grandparents, who are still volunteers and active in the club.

“Alice’s granddad actually played Santa and the Easter Bunny at events,” Rob Zinsmeister said.

The dad and daughter participate in club events such as the “Swifty Skate,” where skaters watch Taylor Swift videos and skate to her music, an Easter Bunny Skate, Santa Skate and Disney Princess Skate. The Princess Skate is especially close to Alice. As a little girl, she attended the event dressed as Tinker Bell in a costume complete with velcro wings. Today, as one of the older skaters, she welcomes other younger skaters as one of the club’s Disney Princesses.

Being on the ice for each of these events with his daughter gives Rob Zinsmeister a chance to hone his skating skills, and he welcomes and invites other parents to join him.

“Usually, when your kids skate, you’re not on the ice. You’re usually in the stands,” Rob Zinsmeister said. “I love to encourage more parents to join skating. It’s so much more interactive and so much fun. You see how much fun it is to actually do it together.”

He also notes that being the “dad” who skates may encourage other dads to join the fun.

Sharing club activities with her dad and the many friends she’s made at Hershey is truly special for Alice Zinsmeister, and her friends are maybe just a “tad” jealous to see she has a dad who loves skating just as much as she does.

“It’s very important to me that I have a dad who skates, and that I can be the third generation who skates. When we are out on the ice, it’s just really fun,” Alice Zinsmeister said.

For Rob Zinsmeister, returning to skate with his daughter means so much more.

“The fact that she’s fallen so in love with it reminds me how much I love the sport,” Rob Zinsmeister said. “ It makes it all the more special because it’s like living it all over again.”