The new skating rink is open, so get off your lutz

With a little practice, you too can learn to glide gracefully

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comNovember 23, 2011 


  • How to skate with Kate.
  • IF YOU GO

    Triangle Park Winter Ice Village Grand Opening and Christmas Tree Lighting

    What: Official opening of the new Unified Trust Co. Ice Skating Rink at Triangle Park and lighting of Lexington's official Christmas tree.

    When: 2 to 10 p.m. Nov. 25

    Where: Triangle Park, Main St. and Broadway

    Learn more: Triangleparklexington.org. Lexington Ice Center, (859) 269-5681.

    SCHEDULE

    2 p.m.: Official rink opening, with remarks by Mayor Jim Gray and others, and performances by professional skater Kate McSwain and Thoroughbred Figure Skating Club.

    2-7 p.m.: Food, arts and crafts vendors.

    6 p.m.: Lighting of Christmas tree at park corner with Santa Claus.

    7-10 p.m.: Free carriage rides through downtown.

    ABOUT THE RINK

    Basics: The rink is managed by the Lexington Ice Center.

    Measurements: The rink is an 85-foot by 60-foot rectangle with railings on the sides.

    Capacity: As many as 200 skaters at a time.

    Hours: Open seasonally noon-8 p.m. Sun., 4-9 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 4-10 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat. and days when there is no school in Fayette County, including holiday breaks. The rink will close when it rains.

    Fees: $10 for 90 minutes with or without skate rental, which is free. Cash, Visa and Mastercard are accepted.

    Concessions: Pastries, hot drinks and other items are being sold from a tent until an outdoor café is completed. Small tables and chairs are available throughout the park.

    IF YOU GO

    Thoroughbred Figure Skating Club: 'Christmas Stories Retold'

    When: 6 p.m. Dec. 6, 1 p.m. Dec. 11

    Where: Lexington Ice Center, 560 Eureka Springs Rd.

    Tickets: $7, free for children younger than 3. Go to TFSCSkating.com for advance tickets.

    RINK ETIQUETTE

    Here are some do's and don'ts on the rink, according to skaters Kate McSwain, June Warta, Valory Vaness and skate mom Laurie Jacob.

    Do follow the posted rink rules. And follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    Do skate in the same direction as the crowd, usually counterclockwise.

    Don't interrupt the general flow of traffic. Try spins, jumps and new tricks in the middle of the rink.

    Don't make divots, or holes, in the ice with your skate. That's just bad manners.

    Do not form a whip. That long chain of skaters working together to whip the guy (or gal) at the end through the crowd — no, no and no.

    Do dress in layers, and bring extra pairs of gloves. You will fall, and your gloves will get wet.

    Do be considerate. If you must glide while holding your arms outstretched and saying "I'm the king of the world!" do so quietly so as not to disturb the other skaters.

People who really know how to ice skate make it hard for the rest of us.

They glide backward effortlessly, they spin gracefully, and the more advanced even show off with a skilled salchow, axel or lutz. They'll be the ones you're staring at enviously when you go to the new Unified Trust Co. Ice Rink at Triangle Park.

Once you would-be Johnny Weirs and Dorothy Hamills strap on those rental skates, said skating coach Valory Vaness, you realize that those Olympic-level skills don't come easy.

But there is hope.

First things first: Lace up those skates but good.

It probably will feel uncomfortable, professional ice skater and choreographer Kate McSwain said, but that's how it should be. Ice skates will feel tighter than everyday boots, but that's what provides the proper ankle support, said McSwain, a Lexington native who will perform at the rink's grand opening.

Now, let's talk about the most important skill for any beginner: falling correctly.

The rear end, for most people, is one of the more cushioned parts of the anatomy, but it's best to fall to the side, said June Warta, who with Vaness coaches the Thoroughbred Figure Skating Club, which also will perform Friday.

Once you start to lose balance, she said, try to lean forward and to the right or left, so you can land on a hip. This will protect your all-important noggin, Warta said.

To get started on the ice, don't try to emulate the long strides of Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno. Take small strides, Warta said, and eventually you will be moving forward.

"Move in place with little steps, and that will turn into movement," she said.

Don't be discouraged if you aren't doing a death spin by the end of the day, Vaness said. Skating takes practice, and skating well takes even more practice.

"Just take it slow and be careful, and don't get too crazy," she said. With a little practice, she said, taking to the ice can lead to a host of fun recreation, including ice dancing, hockey and synchronized skating: "There are a lot of different avenues."

Reach Mary Meehan at (859) 231-3261 or 1-800-350-5697, Ext. 3261.

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