Winthrop man still skates at age 91

Joined NU Figure Skating Club in his 50s

Staff photo by Fritz Busch John Sloot, 91, of Winthrop, skates in the New Ulm Figure Skating Club’s presentation of “Blades On Broadway” this weekend.

WINTHROP — John Sloot still remembers growing up in Holland.

“I got a pair of speed skates when I was a child, but I always envied kids with nice figure skates and what they could do. I put up with it,” said Sloot, 91, and still an active member of the New Ulm Figure Skating Club.

Sponsored by Henry Stockman of Minnesota Lake, Sloot immigrated to the United States at age 25. The Stockmans had a pair of figure skates in their garage.

“I asked them if I could try them on and they said sure,” John said.

Working on a farm, John said he enjoyed skating on a nearby pond.

Years later, raising hogs on the family farm near Winthrop, he was bringing a load of feed home from Sleepy Eye one day when he heard about skating for adults on KNUJ radio.

“I asked them if there were any older people skating in the club,” John said. He was soon skating on Saturday mornings at the then Vogel Arena in New Ulm.

John’s skating teacher started putting on skating shows.

“They needed a snowman. I was the snowman,” John said. “My (late) wife (Minnie) made sheets to make me look like a snowman sometime back in the 1980s. Little kids in the show followed me in the show.”

Sloot said he was impressed by how much interest the New Ulm Figure Skating Club shows generated, filling all the seats at ice arenas.

Sloot will dress up as an announcer for this weekend’s ice show. He’ll skate in the opening and closing numbers and an adult skate.

“It’s been fun over the years. I can’t do all the things I used to do. You lose some of your balance when you get older,” Sloot said. “Plus you don’t have a lot of competition at this age either.”

Sloot still goes to open skating events at the New Ulm Civic Center. He has no plans to stop skating.

“I’ll skate as long as I can do it. I’ve been blessed,” John said.

John admits he eats just about anything he wants to. He doesn’t smoke.

“My brother was a priest. He said I’d reach age 100,” Sloot said.

In addition, John has worked with horses in his farm arenas, enabling them to be more easily ridden by people. On top of that, he still helps his son Harry raise pigs, drive tractor and combine corn.

This weekend, the New Ulm Figure Skating Club presents its 2019 ice show, Blades On Broadway. Showtimes are 1 and 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23 and 1 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 24 at the New Ulm Civic Center, 1212 N. Franklin St.

The show features music from some of your favorite Broadway shows. Sing along to the music of “Mamma Mia, Hairspray, Les Miserables, Wicket, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, Moulin Rouge” and more.

Featuring 70 skaters from New Ulm and surrounding area, tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students age 3-17. Tickets are available at Hy-Vee Foods and at the door one hour prior to each show. Shows run more than two hours including a 20-minute intermission.

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