David Nickel's love for skating has led him to become a successful coach in the VGK Skating Academy presented by Atomic Golf. Nickel loved the speed, spins and jumps when he was a kid, and that love transitioned into a lengthy career as a performer with accolades including being a four-time Canadian National and International competitor and Skate Canada and US Figure Skating gold test medalist. While his personal performing days may be over, Nickel has over 25 years of coaching experience with specializations in jumps and spins. 

How did you first get involved in skating?
Nickel: I got involved with skating when I was 6 or 7 years old. My teacher at school handed out a flyer advertising the local Learn to Skate program and I begged my parents to take me. I immediately loved the speed, spinning fast and jumping so figure skating was the natural fit for me. 

How did you get involved with the skating academy here in Vegas? 
Nickel: I was a professional skater performing in shows. I came to Las Vegas and performed in a show called “Fire and Ice” at the Hacienda Hotel. I started coaching skating on the side at the Santa Fe rink. When that rink closed, I moved to the Fiesta rink (now Hylo Park). When I heard of the Vegas Golden Knights and the building of City National Arena, I knew it would be a game changer for skating in the Las Vegas community and I wanted to be involved. I sent my resume and I believe I was the first Learn to Skate/figure skating coach hired. 

What ages and programs do you coach at the skating academy?
Nickel: The age range of my students is 4-60. I coach beginner skaters at the CNA skating academy and the Golden Edge/Aspire program which is a bridge program for aspiring figure skaters. I mainly work at CAN but also use Hylo Park and AFC rinks when teaching.

What are some of your favorite things about teaching people to skate?
Nickel: I love seeing beginner skaters learn how to skate fast and glide. I love seeing advanced skaters land a new jump, pass a test or achieve their goals at a competition. 

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job as a coach?
Nickel: The most rewarding aspect of my job is when a student acquires a lifelong love of skating and takes the life lessons they’ve learned through sport and use them in all aspects of their lives. 

What is something you wish you knew when you were learning to skate?
Nickel: Skating and coaching skating has changed dramatically since I was young. I would have been a better skater knowing the advanced techniques I know now and because of this I always research new and different ways of learning skills. 

What advice do you have for prospective parents who are thinking of signing their child up for the skating academy?
Nickel: Bring your child to the rink. Let them watch a hockey game, a free skate session or a competition. Let them feel the ice and get comfortable in the environment before putting them on the ice. 

What advice do you have for kids who might want to be skaters?
Nickel: For skaters to be successful, they must find a training environment that they love. I often refer to this quote by Rafael Nadal, “The glory is not in winning here or winning there. The glory is enjoying practicing, enjoying every day, enjoying to work hard, trying to be better every day.” I’ve been spending my time in rinks on a daily basis for over 50 years. Skating has really enhanced my life and I hope to pass on my enthusiasm to others.