Freezing temps, sleet and snowfall signal winter is upon us. Tame those wintry tempests by gliding around on an outdoor ice skating rink.
Just ask Peggy Fleming. The five-time U.S. Figure Skating Champion and 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist ice-skater says, “When I was about 14 years old, Lake Placid, N.Y., was my first exposure to skating outdoors on natural ice. I grew up in San Jose, Calif., and had always skated indoors. The feeling of the cool breeze on your face outdoors is magical.”
Decades later, Fleming still resides in the San Jose area, serves as commentator for ABC-Sports, operates her family winery, and continues to skate for pure pleasure. “Ice-skating is a wonderful experience to share with your family,” she says. “Sharpen your skates and make some memories on the ice this holiday season!”
To turn your own ice skating reveries into frosty reality, venture onto some of the coolest outdoor ice rinks in America.
Since opening in 1936, the pinnacle of popular outdoor ice skating arenas is The Rink at Rockefeller Center, located on Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets in the pulsing heart of New York City. The Center’s famous flag-lined outdoor plaza transforms each November into a spectacular frozen setting featuring a glorious 70-foot decorated fir tree and musical entertainment. Lucky couples can experience the “Engagement on Ice” package for cool nuptial proposals.
From October to April, the 30,800-square-foot Wollman Skating Rink in New York City’s Central Park is a family favorite featuring public open skate sessions, instruction by U.S. Figure Skating Association pros as well as adult and youth hockey league games.
Brian Boitano has won more professional titles than any other skater in the sport’s history including six World Professional Championships and the Men’s Figure Skating Olympic Gold Medal in 1988. Boitano says, “I have many fond memories of skating outdoors. My most memorable outdoor skating experience will always be the freedom of skating on a glacier in Alaska in 1988 (captured in his prime-time TV special "Canvas of Ice").
“My favorite outdoor summer skating rink is Sun Valley, where I have skated in many shows. Now, as a resident of San Francisco, I am excited that for the first time there will be an outdoor holiday rink in Union Square right in the heart of downtown.”
The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square in San Francisco debuted Nov. 12, 2008, and will be open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Jan. 4, 2009 (Fridays and Saturdays until 11:30 p.m.). Sessions are 90 minutes and start on the even hour amidst singular shopping, dining and entertainment surrounding the square.
Iconic settings are sometimes all it takes to take a turn an outdoor rink from prosaic to poetic. This could happen in Boston. Located in America's oldest public park, the Boston Common Frog Pond Skating Rink welcomes Olympic wannabe’s and casual bladers from November to mid-March with at least 100 days of seasonal skating, lessons and private party options. Close your eyes when lacing your skates and picture yourself back in 1634 when Boston Common first opened.
But let’s not forget: Southern California? Yes, you can ice-skate under the warm San Diego sun. San Diego’s venerable Hotel Del Coronado “Skating by the Sea” offers the quintessential Southern California experience. The historic hotel’s oceanfront Windsor Lawn transforms into a spectacular outdoor ice skating rink from Nov. 20, 2008 through Jan. 3, 2009. You’ll be overlooking the glittering Pacific Ocean with palm trees waving alongside — pretty cool, if you ask us.