As the 2018 Winter Olympics kick off in PyeongChang, South Korea, figure skating, speed skating and hockey will be among the marquee events. Generations of young skaters will be inspired by the aerial feats, athletic prowess and teamwork showcased on the ice, while dreaming of standing on the medal podium proudly representing their country.
For amateur and recreational skaters who want to enjoy some quality ice time with family and friends a little closer to home, select New York State Parks offer a variety of locations and experiences throughout the winter months, including rinks and many frozen ponds. From Riverbank’s roof-top skyline in Manhattan to the oval at historic Bear Mountain to the quiet beauty among the pines in Saratoga, these scenic settings are the perfect backdrop to embrace the weather in the northeast and stay active in the outdoors.
Whether your specialty is a triple lutz, or you skew closer to a full-time klutz (or somewhere in between), ice skating is a fun way to exercise for people of all ages. The New England Baptist Hospital and M. Kathryn Steiner, M.D., the physician for the Skating Academy of Boston, recently noted the many fitness benefits of skating including strength, flexibility and balance.
For ice enthusiasts who prefer a net and some action, pond hockey is more popular than ever before. Both Chenango Valley and Saratoga Spa State Parks host annual multi-day tournaments that draw visitors from across the U.S. These, together with parks such as Schodack Island, Grafton Lake, and Glimmerglass, hold winter festivals and regular programs throughout January and February with some offering instruction to help grow new legions of skaters.
Along with inspiration for general winter recreation, the State Parks’ website (parks.ny.gov) offers a full list of State Parks with ice skating. Many sites offer skate rentals, lessons, special events, warming huts and refreshments. Call ahead for conditions and hours, and be sure to carve out some ice time for yourself this season!