Ice Skating

Picture Perfect Pastime

Checking ice skating off your wintertime bucket list

By Jill Adler January 1, 2014 Published in the Winter/Spring 2014 issue of Park City Magazine

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Resort Center Ice Rink

Image: Patrick Cone

Close your eyes, and surely you can picture it. Couples clutching mitten-covered hands while tinny music pipes from a loudspeaker. Warm clouds of breath linger in the cold air. Cheeks flush from smiles and exertion. Children giggle and squeal as they scoot after one another around the rink.

Ice skating is one of those timeless winter pastimes everybody can relate to, and ever since Sonja Henie floated and twirled around the rink at the Sun Valley Resort in 1941, skating and skiing have gone together like peanut butter and jelly. Gliding around a flawlessly Zambonied rink is fun, romantic, family-friendly, and the idyllic après complement to any winter afternoon. And there’s no need to make the trip north to Idaho to experience it firsthand. In and around Park City, the sliding and gliding options are many, both indoors and out.

Where to Go

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Willow Creek Park

Image: Daniel Riley

Crowds are typically thin at the cozy Resort Center Ice Rink (1415 Lowell Ave, 435.615.8165), located at Park City Mountain Resort’s base area plaza, open from November through February. Bring your own skates or rent. Complimentary skate trainers are available for those who need a little extra assistance. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Warm up with a hot chocolate or coffee from the warming hut. Hot toddies and other adult libations can be found nearby at the Pig Pen Saloon, the Corner Store, or Legends Bar & Grill (inside the Legacy Lodge).

Drop over to Willow Creek Park (4460 Split Rail Lane) and watch the locals play pond hockey on what is normally the summer dog pond. Michigan native Randy Hanskat (the Ice Man) brought his old-school childhood pastime to his Park City neighbors by spending late nights shoveling, watering, and leveling the pond’s surface into a usable rink for pickup games, figure eights, and everything in between. As long as the water is frozen, the rink is open (during daylight hours only). Just remember to bring your own gear, as there are no rentals or amenities.

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Park City Ice Arena

Image: Thomas Cobb

Serious figure skaters and hockey players swear by the Olympic-quality facilities inside the Park City Ice Arena and Sports Complex (600 Gillmor Way, Quinn’s Junction, 435.615.5700). In fact, professional skaters visiting the Wasatch can’t wait to get on the ice here to practice jumps and throws using the overhead safety harnesses. The rink is also the area’s only indoor public skating venue, where visitors and locals alike can glide around on whisper-thin skate blades without concern for the weather. One-stop services include skate rentals, birthday party rooms, and concessions. Open skate is offered daily; call ahead for details.

Just 30 minutes away is the homey Midway Ice Rink (Midway Town Square, 75 N 100 West, 435.654.4204). The rink is not quite big enough to host a hockey game but offers enough elbow room that you won’t always feel like you’re in a turn. Services include skate rentals, group and private lessons, and four varieties of hot cocoa in the warming hut. Hours are 3 to 10 p.m. daily.

Salt Lake City is no Big Apple, but you’ll definitely be reminded of Rockefeller Center after a stroll through Temple Square and a spin around the Gallivan Center Ice Rink (50 E 200 South, 801.535.6117). Head downtown for dinner, then skate the night away under the charm of the lights and music. Skate rentals and concessions are available from noon to 9 p.m. (midnight on the weekends).

What to Wear

Warm and hip duds for hitting the ice

The skier’s go-to recommendation to dress in layers applies to the skater as well. Even if outdoor temperatures are hovering in the frigid teens, you’ll heat up fast after a few laps around the rink, making it essential to be able to shed and don clothes as needed. Beware: anything cotton equals a cold and clammy outing. If possible, avoid jeans and T-shirts. Below are our picks for a comfortable and stylish ice-skating outing.

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Start with a long-sleeved poly or synthetic blend baselayer top like Helly Hansen’s Warm Freeze Half-Zip ($90, Legacy Sports, Park City Mountain Resort). The dual-layer construction will keep you warm while wicking sweat away from your skin.

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Gals can keep their urban street style flowing on the ice with a Krimson Klover Belle Ami cardigan ($159, Bahnhof Sport, 693 Main St). The luxurious merino wool is soft on your skin and moves when you do. Plus, it’s the epitome of winter cuteness.

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On the bottom, men can opt for pants like the Kühl Kovert ($79, Jans Mountain Outfitters, 1600 Park Ave), made from a soft, microtwill cotton with stretch panels on the knees and a rear yoke for mobility and comfort. Their denim look glides easily from the rink to drinks, dinner, and
an after-dark excursion to Main Street.

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Be sure to wear a pair of high, thick, warm socks with your skates. The Smartwool PHD Snowboard Medium socks ($18, White Pine Touring, 1790 Bonanza Dr) with full-cushioned foot, four-degree fit, and merino-nylon construction reduce the risk of blisters and cold toes.

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