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Person Behind The Place: Britt Nhi Sarah

November 23, 2021 - by Sandy Vo

Person Behind The Place:
Britt Nhi Sarah

Ice Skating Instructor | Bellevue Downtown Ice Rink presented by Symetra

Britt Nhi Sarah learned how to ice skate and walk at the same time. A dedicated lover to the winter sport, Sarah went on to compete in dozens of competitions and quickly climbed the ranks, touring and performing around Europe. While the ice-skating life was glamourous, she knew she wanted to do more. After moving to New York, Sarah began her 20-year career as an ice-skating coach. It came naturally to her, teaching others the art of skating and finding fun ways to share the technique. 

This year, Sarah returns as the main skating coach at the Bellevue Downtown Ice Rink presented by Symetra. For those serious about skating or looking to improve their skills, private lessons can be booked at Another option, thanks to our partner Microsoft, free skate lessons are available at the rink on select dates and times, see the full schedule at Read on to learn more about Sarah’s approach to skate lessons, and why she loves working in Downtown Bellevue.

What is the best part about being an ice-skating instructor?

The best part is, no matter what age I teach, when they finally get that ‘aha’ moment. Students get so excited knowing that it is possible to be good at skating. The most important thing to me is to give instructions so that they are free to self-analyze what they can do even if I’m not there. If something isn’t working or they’re moving oddly, my goal is to get them to a point where they can self-instruct after our lesson.

How do you work with students from the moment they first step onto the ice to the very end of the lesson?

The first thing I do, even before they get onto the ice is asking if they’ve ever skated before. This helps me indicate if they’re a beginner or not. For first-time skaters, they’re most likely nervous so it’s my job to break down what ice skating looks like, from lacing up skates to getting on the ice. I’m walking them through the balance points and telling them the best I can how it’s going to feel. With experienced skaters, I ask them to skate around the rink and from there I analyze how they’re balancing and what they’ve already learned. From what I see, I can make lessons in my head and tell them specific techniques they can improve on.

How is teaching kids compared to teaching adults?

It's a very different process with different age groups. Some kids want to fly around the ice, so I give them the freedom to do so but also give them a structure to learn the process. Other kids are nervous, so I give them a platform to be brave. I’m right by their side every moment. For adults, it’s more cerebral. They must understand it in their brain and once they get it, it’s all about the trust between us and trust in the techniques and instructions I give them.

How does teaching at the Bellevue Downtown Ice Rink differ from teaching in other cities?

I moved to Seattle about six years ago and was asked to take over an ice-skating coaching program by a dear friend of mine. What I love about Bellevue is the tons of families who are looking for community sports. I’m only in the city for a few months, so people are extra eager to give their children access to a new sport like ice skating. I love being able to bring families together through my instructions. I start by teaching the kids and I slowly get the adults to become part of the skating lesson too. This helps parents figure out how to navigate the ice and therefore, help their children feel more confident. I’m already getting emails from parents and students who have been with me for a long time asking to book another lesson. They’re excited, which makes my job even better.

Why do you love working in Downtown Bellevue?

Bellevue is a great city that’s growing and growing. It’s an incredible space for people to try so many different things. I also enjoy how user-friendly it is, especially for people who live in Downtown. It’s incredible to know people can just run down to the ice rink in a matter of seconds. It’s exciting and intriguing to be part of a community that has a lot of different opportunities and experiences.

Do you have a favorite place to dine out?

I love the little restaurants right around the corner of the ice rink, especially 520 Bar & Grill. There’s also Belle Pastry - the bakery smells like fresh bread and I love going there everyday.

Favorite hidden gems?

I love walking down to Meydenbauer Bay Park and seeing the gorgeous waterfront. I love that in Bellevue, you go from the city to this amazing water view.

Where do you see yourself five to ten years from now?

The best thing about my job is I get to do what I love, and I’ve been doing it for quite some time now. I plan on doing this for the rest of my life, that’s where I see myself.

Person Behind the Place is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.