Skating your way into Winter
With University District’s Central Commons Park outdoor skating rink officially opening Dec 4, now is the perfect time to make sure you are ready to lace-up at this one-of-a-kind rink. We have everything you need to know about where to skate, finding equipment to rent or buy and some easy tips on skating from local coach Elizabeth Ward.
Five Places to go Skating in Calgary
Whether you prefer to glide indoors or out, northwest Calgary does not disappoint with options to glide on the ice all winter long nestled in and around U/D.
- Central Commons Park – This brand new rink has state-of-the-art technology that will keep you skating all winter long. The temperature regulated ice means the rink will be available for use all winter long. Admission is free. Join us Dec. 4 from 1 – 5 pm for our official grand opening!
- Olympic Oval – Want to skate where the pros go? Head to a drop-in skating session at the Olympic Oval at the University of Calgary. They have more than 50 recreational drop-in sessions a month and often host events throughout the year.
- Bowness Park – Skate on the bow river at Bowness Park! Some of their must-see attractions include a new skating trail, ice-bike rentals, curling rinks and Crokicurl.
- Parkdale Community Rink – Champions of one of the most accessible ice rinks in Calgary and Alberta, the Parkdale Community association rink is a place everyone can play. The outdoor rink was designed and built to meet accessibility standards for sledge hockey and is aiming for Rick Hansen certification.
- Silver Springs Community Rink – For those looking to play a game of pick-up with friends and family, you will want to add the Silver Springs Community Rink to your list of things to check out this winter. It is home to three hockey-ready rinks, including an NHL-sized pad, perfect for a game of shiny.
Five Places to Rent or Buy Skating Equipment in Calgary
Improving your ice skating experience is making sure you have the right gear. Thankfully, northwest Calgary is home to plenty of options for renting and buying skates, helmets and more.
Places to rent equipment
- Rentals at Olympic Oval – Skate rentals
- Sports Rent at Shouldice – Sports Rent has hockey equipment rentals in addition to skates.
Places to purchase equipment
- Sporting life Market Mall – To purchase skates
- Blades Skate Shop in Bowness – Blades also offers skate sharpening.
- Sportchek Market Mall – To purchase skates
Five Tips to Improve Your Skating From a Professional
Even the best skaters in the world have skating coaches, which means we could all use a few tips for improvement. Elizabeth Ward is a Short Track Program Coach at the Olympic Oval and she shares her expertise for those looking to glide with more confidence this winter.
- Make sure your skates are tight! Ankle stability is very important in skating, and the easiest way to improve that is by making sure your skates are tight enough. However, tightening your skates too much around the top of your foot may cause pain in the arch. Therefore, only tighten the top of your foot as much as comfortable without squeezing the foot, but make sure the ankle is very tight. You should not be able to move your foot around in the skate, and the skate shouldn’t wobble your ankles: the skates should feel nice and snug.
- Get down. Balance is key in skating, and the best way to achieve better balance is by keeping your center of gravity low by bending your knees forward and bringing your shoulders down. Although you do not need to crouch all the way down like a speed skater would, making sure you keep your knees and shoulders forward will help you balance and prevent swaying back and forth.
- Baby steps. When stepping on the ice for the first time, start by simply walking. Doing small steps forward while bringing your feet back together will allow you to get a feel for the ice. When you get more comfortable, start taking bigger steps followed by a glide.
- Look up! While the instinct is to look down at your feet when learning to skate, it is important to keep your head up and look towards where you’re going. Not only will it help with your balance, but it will also help you avoid collisions with others.
- Be patient and have fun. Learning to skate takes time but you will get the feel for it quite quickly! Be patient and keep at it, you will be impressed by how fast you can progress. Take time to enjoy the fresh air and outdoors, and don’t take yourself too seriously – even Olympians had to learn to skate and trust me, they stumbled and fell quite a bit too!
Spots for Après Skating Eats and Drinks
Whether you’re working yourself up an appetite or simply more of an après skater, U/D is the place to stop for a warm drink, coffee or snack and some social time. Some of our favourite post-skate destinations include:
We know that Calgary winters can be hard to embrace but hopefully these tips give you just the inspiration you need to skate right into winter. Be sure to follow U/D on social media to get all the latest updates on the Central Commons Park grand opening – we can’t wait to see you there!
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