It’s time to play nice on the ice.
We’ll take our winter on ice. There’s no better way to enjoy the cold months than by taking up a winter sport, a winter sport played on ice. Whether it be hockey, figure skating or just a pleasant afternoon spent tracing circles on a neighborhood pond, ice makes winter a special time of year.
While ice sports have always been part of northern winters, the proliferation of indoor skating rinks has made sports on skates a favorite of those who live in places where ponds never freeze. But the indoor trend has reversed a bit in colder parts of the country, as skaters and head back outdoors to play on the ponds.
Those of us approaching senior-citizen status undoubtedly played our first hockey on a frozen pond or lake. I ventured onto the ice at the age of five on Chicago’s Midway Plaisance, a remnant of a long-ago world’s fair that the city fathers would flood for skating. In later years, my friends and I played hockey on ponds in city parks. There was something about one’s breath turn-ing into ice crystals and the tingle of single-digit temperatures that invigorated. My kids, who grew up in the eighties, missed out on that, as indoor rinks became the skating venues of choice.
Today, pond hockey and outdoor skating are coming back in a big way. Like the pond hockey we played as kids, today’s games are usually held on a rink that is smaller than an NHL rink. A barrier of snow is often the only thing that serves to keep the puck on the ice, although organized pond-hockey competitions – of which there are more every year – are played on natural rinks ringed with minimal wooden boards.
Dunham’s can provide the equipment you’ll need to play pond hockey. Of course, you need a good pair of skates, a hockey stick, gloves and a puck. For most venues, helmets aren’t mandatory but are highly recommended. Shin guards are a good idea as well, since a flying puck can leave an ugly bruise. But since hard physical contact isn’t part of pond hockey, the armor worn for organized indoor hockey is often not worn.
Although pick-up pond hockey can be played with a makeshift net, Dunham’s carries the Mylec 810 and EZ Goal nets that can be quickly set up on the ice.
Figure skating experienced a surge in popularity when the friends of one prominent lady skater tried to break the kneecaps of another prominent lady skater. Why it took an unseemly event to draw attention to figure skating is a mystery to devotees of the sport, but today nearly every little girl and quite a few little boys dream of becoming Olympic skating stars.
Of course reaching the upper echelons of any Olympic sport is a one in a million shot, but there’s plenty of fun to be had at less competitive levels. Figure skating demands coordination, good muscle tone and a certain amount of grace, so benefits de-rived from making the effort are multitudinous. And because most skating schools conclude the season with a public perfor-mance, students get a chance to show off their skills.
While the majority of figure-skating students are youngsters, many schools have classes just for adults. If you’ve always wanted to learn to do a double axle, you can do so at any age, and you don’t have to worry about being shown up by a five year old.
At the beginners level, all that is need to learn figure skating is a decent pair of skates. As a student progresses, more ad-vanced skates with special toe points are required to perform the jumps and spins taught at higher levels. Dunham’s carries a full selection of figure skates. Ask one of our sales assistants to help you choose the right equipment.
Recreational Skating and Ice Games
While hockey and figure skating offer competition along with the joy of skating, just making figure eights on a frozen pond can be lots of fun. And if that’s not enough to keep the youngsters interested, there are many games that can be played on the ice.
At the pond where I hung out as a teen we played “crack the whip.” To play, a line of half a dozen or more skaters is formed, each holding the hips of the skater in front or linking hands. The lead skater pulls the line with those behind assisting. As speed builds, the skater at the head of the line executes a sharp turn, which cracks the whip and causes the last couple of skaters in the line to accelerate rapidly towards the snow banks at the edge of the rink.
Informal races can be fun on ice. And while these can just pit each skater against the others, they can also involve complexi-ties, like skating backwards and pulling a second skater or towing a sled and rider. An obstacle course made up of sticks, rocks, boots, and whatever else is available can also add a different dimension to on-ice races.
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