January 18th, 2013 at 3:04 pm
I may be in the minority, but I love winter. The snow, the ice, bundling up against the blustery wind, even shoveling—I look forward to it each year. With its abnormally warm temperatures, this winter (so far) has been a bit disappointing for a cold-weather-lover like me. Other than one day of sledding just before New Year’s Eve, I haven’t gotten nearly as much winter fun in as I’d like. I’ve barely even had to wear my parka!
But as much as I love the cold, I’ve never been ice skating. I didn’t grow up in a town that had an ice rink or a pond that would get frozen-over in winter (at least not one I was willing to risk getting onto). Being of a certain age, I do have plenty of experience with roller skating, but those days of pom-poms, glittery laces, and disco balls are a long-distant—albeit very fond—memory. Basically, it’s been a good 30 years since I’ve had anything attached to the bottom of my shoes other than some nice 3-inch heels.
So when the opportunity arose for me to pay a visit to IceWorks Skating Complex, how could I resist? A few hours of icy cold fun was just what I needed, I thought, to remind myself that—yes!—it’s still winter. Located just off of Route 352 in Aston (and only 15 minutes from Philadelphia), the facility was easy to find for both me and my skating companions for the day, my friend Mary and her two children, Lila (age 4) and Jerry (age 9).
Upon arriving at the complex, I was awestruck by just how huge it is. IceWorks isn’t just a skating rink; it’s four separate skating rinks, in addition to a full-service restaurant, snack bar, pro shop, arcade, and banquet/party rooms. There’s plenty of space at the facility, both on and off the ice. Friendly staff members were on hand to direct us to the skate rental area and then to the rink being used that day for public skating. On our way we stopped to watch a few national-level figure skaters who were there that day for qualifications. Watching them glide across the ice, we were all inspired to give it a try ourselves.
Let’s just say, ice skating isn’t as easy as those graceful young men and women made it look. In fact, I’d say that our time on the ice could be described as anything but graceful. I tried channeling those long-gone days of roller skating with limited success. Luckily, while we were on the ice, we met an instructor from the facility, who gave us some tips to keep us on our feet (the most helpful? “Stand up straight!”). He later told me how he’s trained one adult who has gone on to win the Pennsylvania Adult Figure Skating Championship—at age 61! So perhaps there’s hope for me.
Which leads me to my next point: IceWorks has an incredible Learn to Skate program. Classes are offered for all ages in both figure skating and ice hockey. As skaters advance, they can join one of IceWorks’ skating clubs; enjoy camps, clinics, and an annual Ice Show; compete as part of both in-house and club-level hockey teams (the Dragons, Phantoms, and Little Flyers); or participate in the IceWorks Academy and even high-level competitive skating. Private lessons are also offered. The trophy cases packed with awards in the facility’s lobby are evidence that IceWorks knows how to teach skating.
Despite our novice attempts to skate (and more than a few wipeouts), Mary, the kids, and I had a great time—and a lot of laughs. I got my winter “fix” for the day and re-lived some of those old roller skating memories. With a little practice, I think I may even become pretty good at it, and the experience opened up a whole new avenue of physical activity for me (cross that resolution off the list!). It was great getting out of my comfort zone for a few hours—thanks, IceWorks!
IceWorks is open for public skating 7 days a week (check the schedule here). On January 21, head to the complex for extended open skate hours during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The cost is $10 for adults and children over 4; children 4 and under are free. Skate rentals are $1 (free on Wednesdays). Discount skating, family value, and annual membership packages are also available. For more information about passes and packages, call 610-497-2200.