Learn To Skate Instructors

Sultana Arifah

Program Director

Sultana Arifah

is originally from Los Angeles California. She began taking ice skating classes in 1976. Only six months after starting the Basic Skills Skating Program, she entered her first USFSA competition, where she won 3rd place. One month later she earned her first of many first-place titles. Since then, Sultana has acquired nearly 40 years of figure skating experience.

In her last year of competitive skating, she placed 5th overall in the Novice Ladies Finals at Southwest Regional Championships in California. After nearly ten years of competitive skating, she began her professional skating career in 1985, her first professional job being a background skater in a Sanka Coffee commercial staring Olympic Champion, Dorothy Hamill. The following year, she joined Holiday on Ice in Europe where she performed as an ensemble skater, adagio, soloist (tribute to Josephine Baker) and soloist understudy. The company toured cities throughout France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and the Czech Republic. Returning from Europe, she was cast in a number of skating TV specials, such as Michelle Kwan specials, a Nancy Kerrigan Special, and Snowden ll Christmas Special, just to name few. She also toured the USA with Hercules Disney on Ice.

Sultana discovered her love for teaching while on a short hiatus from performing in 1998. She taught all levels of the basic skills skating program and private lessons for nine years at the Culver City Ice Arena in California. She worked with advanced competitive skaters as a specialty coach, focusing on spins, style and choreography.

Shortly after arriving in Philadelphia in 2006, she resumed coaching, first at the Stadium Arena in Havertown and finally settling at the Laura Sims Skate House in 2010. During her first few years, she was the Skating School co-director with Jimi Lewis, and she offered her wealth of experience and knowledge to assist with the production of the skating school recitals. Additionally, a referral by Jimi Lewis gave Sultana opportunity to choreograph an ice skating number for the Universoul Circus, its opening act.

Sultana's reputation in the skating world has been that of one who is professional, reliable, knowledgeable, caring and helpful.

She is always ready to share her enthusiasm for her love of skating with anyone who is ready and willing to receive it.

Jimi Lewis

Senior Instructor

Jimi Lewis

Jimi became the first instructor when the rink opened during the 1985-86 skating season. He started as an attendant, but all it took was a single conversation with Laura Sims for that to change. As soon as she learned that Jimi was teaching figure skating to students at the UPenn and Haverford Township rinks, the two of them formulated plans to bring Learn to Skate programs to Cobbs Creek, to raise the level of understanding of skating and show the area's children that they could learn to skate as well as anybody in the world.

Now a nationally accredited coach, Jimi caught the skating bug at age eleven from his uncle, who worked at the Arena, a rink that was located on Market Street. Jimi saw an Ice Follies production of Peter Pan, and when Peter flew out over the audience on a guide wire, that was all it took -- Jimi decided he wanted to become a skater. He started to skate the next week. Within a couple of months, he was doing a good spin (it takes most people much longer to reach that level). His skills really took off after he met and started working with Sally Ann Reid, a coach who worked with him, made corrections here and there, and never, ever took a dime of his money. Twelve years after he started learning, Jimi started teaching. He was asked to teach a young girl at the Penn Rink. She entered competitions. She started winning. He's been coaching ever since.

Not only has he been a dependable instructor and coach, but has been an inspiration for younger instructors. After skating for over sixty years and coaching for nearly fifty, thirty of which have been at the Skate House, Jimi has friends and former students all over the world. His success as a coach enabled four to become professional skaters performing in shows such as Disney on Ice, and he was the Artistic Director for the opening act of Universoul Circus. His personality made him a popular target for journalists and talking heads that like a good story. He's been featured in a number of Philadelphia Daily News articles, appeared on news programs like the Today Show, Good Morning America, and Dan Rather's World News, and been the guest on Montel Williams and Oprah's TV shows. The Laura Sims Skate House 30th Anniversary Planning Committee selected Jimi as an honoree, recognizing him for his many years of serving as Instructor in the Learn to Skate classes.