London loses skating icon
Larry Gazdig dedicated his life to teaching children to skate. Many went on to become champions.
Larry Gazdig is being remembered this week by thousands who remember him teaching them how to skate. In 1963 Gazdig launched Power Plus Skating. His family estimates since then the program has taught some 40-thousand kids what to do on the ice.
"You know if you can't skate you can't play," said former hockey great Eric Lindros, who remembers attending skating lessons run by Gazdig. "I enjoyed it. I loved to go to skating class, to get on the ice and try different things."
Others to experience success include Brad Marsh, Joe Thornton, Darryl Sittler, Nazem Kadri of NHL fame and Olympic gold medal long track speed skater Christine Nesbitt.
Scott Kernaghan, a manager at the London sporting goods store, Source for Sports, remembers a passionate skating coach on the ice.
"I remember being terrified of him because he would just scream at everyone. He made you do what you were supposed to do," said Kernaghan. "There was no coddling there, which was great."
Kernaghan also remembers a softer side to Gazdig, especially when he would visit the store to check out the latest equipment.
"He would venture in quite often and he was always curious because he was so passionate about skating. He would come in and see what's new in the skate market and see what he loved and hated about the new ones and gave his two cents."
Lindros said a key rule he learned from Gazdig was to treat his equipment with care.
"He always walked around with skate guards and he only got his skates sharpened about three times over a season yet he was on the ice for countless hours. It said a lot about how long things should last," said Lindros.
Gazdig died November 1 at the age of 83. A memorial service will be held November 17 at Westview Funeral Chapel.
In an obiturary, his family wrote, Gazdig was a self-taught skater who insisted on perfection in his own skills and recognized the need for children to learn how to skate. He spent years developing drills to bring out the best in his charges.
But, Lindros just remembers it was fun.
"Their classes sold out and it's because there's an element of fun. If it isn't fun kids don't want to do it," he said.