By Sarah Wright
Ice skating is a wonderful sport that historically started out as a way to get around in the winter time. Did you know that around Lake Winnipesaukee, sharpened animal bones have been found that were once attached to shoes for skating? Pretty amazing!
Today, skating is a fun way to get out and enjoy winter in the Lakes Region, no matter what level skater you are. If you don’t have skates, there are local rinks that rent them. You can socialize with friends while sneaking in some exercise. There are many great options in the area to get out on the ice.
The Merrill Fay Arena (formerly Laconia Ice Arena) at 468 Province Road in Laconia, has some great skating programs available, and when you take a break, you can warm your bench up with some quarters! (I like the way they think.) Public Skating is on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 11:30 am to 1 pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon to 1:30 pm. The rink offers rental skates and sharpening services for a small fee, as well as helmet rentals for children, if you forget yours. If you’re into hockey, Stick & Puck time is on Wednesdays from 11 am to 1 pm for skaters over age 18. Freestyle Figure Skating is on Sundays from 9:10 to 10:40 am. (Coaching services are available during Freestyle Skate.) Don’t miss The Meltdown dance party for all ages, with a DJ, light show, games, and prizes, on Fridays from 7:30 to 8:45 pm. It’s a great way to have fun with your friends! Call the rink at 528-0789 for more information.
If you have children under age 10 who are interested in hockey, Lakes Region Youth Hockey offers The Learning Lakers program at The Merrill Fay Arena for kids who’d like to work on skating skills. Kids will receive one hour of on-ice instruction each week with games and fun activities, scrimmages, stride development, and fun drills to encourage a love for hockey. Hockey equipment is required, but there is plenty of free, used equipment available if requested in advance. Session 2 of The Learning Lakers runs from January 7 to February 4, on Sundays from 10:50 to 11:50 am. Registration is required. For more information, visit www.merrillfayarena.com and click on “Learn to Skate” in the left-hand column.
The Central New Hampshire Skating Academy also offers lessons at the Merrill Fay Arena for those interested in figure skating. The Learn to Skate: Skill Development classes are available for kids and adults at Basic Skill levels 1-7. Each group skating lesson will include a warm-up and review of skating skills, followed by skill work on specific elements required to pass to the next USFSA level. The lessons will conclude with coach-supervised practice. Session 2 runs from January 12 through February 13, on Fridays from 5:45 to 6:30 pm. For more information, visit www.cnhskatingacademy.org.
Moultonborough’s Outdoor Ice Rink at Kraine Meadow Park on Playground Drive is open for the season. The Parks and Recreation Department maintains the rink and runs various programs and events. The rink is open Monday through Sunday for Open Skate. Sticks and pucks may also be allowed, but on the opposite side of the rink from the skaters. Learn basic skills at the Youth Skating lessons, which run from January 9 to January 25, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 4:30 pm. Kids must be at least 5 years old and be able to stand up on their skates. Helmets are required and double runner skates are not allowed. Learn basic figure skating skills using your toe pick and other techniques at Beginner/Intermediate Figure Skating lessons from January 9 to the 25 from 4:30 to 5:15 pm. Participants must be able to skate the length of the ice unassisted and helmets are required. Adult “Pick Up” Hockey is on Tuesdays at 7 pm and on Saturdays from 2 to 4 pm for those 18 and older. Don’t miss the Family Skating Party on January 28, from 2 to 4 pm (no sticks or pucks). Note that the rink is reserved for the Moultonborough School District on Fridays from 12 noon until 2:45 pm through February 2. Also, on Sundays from 2 to 4 pm, absolutely no sticks or pucks are allowed.
Remember that the Ice Rink is an unsupervised facility and is occasionally closed in poor conditions. Please do not skate if the closed sign is posted or if the Zamboni is on the ice. If you have any questions, call the Recreation Department at 476-8868. Registration is required for lessons. They also accept skate donations and may have skates available if you need them.
The Tilton School Ice Arena at 30 School Street in Tilton is a busy rink with lots of programs, so public ice time is reserved for special events. However, if you need lessons, Magic Blades will be in Session 3 on Mondays from 6 to 7 pm, from January 8 to February 12. Levels include Snowplow Sam for young beginners; Basic 1-6 for beginners of all ages; Pre-Freestyle; Freestyle for advanced skaters; and a level for Adult beginners and returning skaters. Magic Blades uses the official learn-to-skate program of the National Governing Body for figure skating. Their mission is to provide a fun and positive experience that will instill a lifelong love of skating.
Pop Whalen Arena at 390 Pine Hill Road in Wolfeboro offers scheduled Lap Skating on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 to 9:30 am; Public Skating weekdays from 12:30 to 2 pm (Wednesdays from 11:40 am to 1:10 pm), on Saturdays from 2 to 3:30 pm, and on Sundays from 12 to 2 pm; Stick Practice weekdays from 11 am to 12:20 pm (Wednesdays 10 to 11:30 am), and Saturdays from 3:40 to 5 pm. Skate rentals are available for children and adults as well as skate sharpening services (weekday evenings, and weekends from 9 am to 12 pm).
Learn to Skate with Brewster Best Buddies at Pop Whalen Arena on Sunday, January 14 from 12 to 2 pm. It is open to children at any age to ski with volunteers from Brewster Academy. All proceeds go to programs that support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For further information about the arena, call 569-5639.
Gilford’s Arthur A. Tilton Ice Rink on Varney Point Road is open daily from late December through early March as conditions allow. Parks and Recreation runs this unsupervised facility and the schedule is as follows: Open Skating from dawn until 10 am and from 12 to 3:30 pm; Stick and Puck for ages 13 and under from 10 am to 12 pm, and for ages 14 and up from 3:30 pm until dusk. No sticks or pucks are allowed during Open Skating times. For rink information call 293-0692, or call Parks and Recreation at 527-4722.
Meredith Parks and Recreation Department maintains an outdoor ice rink at Childs Park. For updated information, call 279-8197 or visit their Facebook page.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned skater, have fun with friends and family on the ice this winter!