Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Contact Us | Home RSS
 
 
 

Skating on the Olympic Oval a mainstay in Lake Placid

January 19, 2012
MARGARET MORAN, News Staff Writer , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - "It's fantastic," said Patty Wiley, of Pipersville, Pa. "I would do it again. I'm just disappointed that we waited this long to do it."

She was referring to going ice skating on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval during a recent visit and she and her family weren't the only ones on the ice.

Bundled up in winter coats, scarves, hats and gloves, people of all ages made their way around the outdoor 400-meter rink. Some glided along the ice with ease, while others struggled, but many skaters had smiles on their faces.

Article Photos

Margaret Moran/Lake Placid News
Skaters enjoy the Olympic Oval with a backdrop of a billboard that displays some of the legends who became famous on the same venue.

"I just went around a couple of times, but yeah, it's fun," said Bob Dwyer, of Rochester. "I haven't skated in probably 30 years, so it's been a long time."

"It's wonderful," said Daniel Goltzman, of Burlington, Vt. "We always love coming here every year. It's great to be skating outside."

Some skaters the News spoke to said the rink being outside is one of the elements that makes it unique.

Fact Box

The general public can ice skate at the Oval from 7 to 9 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays during the winter season. On Saturdays and Sundays, public skating is available from 1 to 3 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Speed skating sessions also take place at the Oval, and they are scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The Oval's hours can vary on holidays, so a weekly schedule can be found at www.whiteface.com/activities/index.php.

Admission costs $8 for adults and teens, and $5 for juniors (age 12 and younger) and seniors (age 65 and older). People are allowed to bring their own skates to the Oval or they may rent a pair for $3.

"I love the skating, being outdoors and skating," said Jake Hembury, of Carmel. "You get the fresh air."

You also get a view of the town.

With the Oval sitting in front of the Lake Placid Middle/High School, portions of the Main Street and distant mountains can be seen by skaters as they make their way around the rink.

"I'd say it's beautiful," Wiley said. "You can't get a backdrop like this anywhere else that I know of."

"We've been in indoor (rinks), not outside, but it's actually kind of nice," said Denise Hembury, of Carmel. "It's a little more brisk, but there is something kind of exciting about it. Maybe it's just being in front of the high school and outdoors."

Something else that got skaters excited about the rink was its history.

During the Lake Placid 1932 Winter Olympic Games the U.S. Men's Speed Skating Team made a gold medal sweep on the Oval, with Jack Shea, of Lake Placid, winning two gold medals - the first American athlete to do so at a single Winter Olympics - in the 500-meter and 1,500-meter event. Shea's teammate, Irving Jaffee, won the two remaining gold medals in the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter event. During the Lake Placid 1980 Olympics U.S. Men's Speed skater Eric Heiden set Olympic history by winning five gold medals.

"I think that it's amazing to have an opportunity to skate where the Olympics were held," Wiley said. "To me it's overwhelming to be where the actual Olympians have skated before. There's something about that."

To fully understand what skaters were telling to me, I laced up a pair of rental skates and took to the ice.

Trying out the Oval

Cautiously, I took my first steps onto the ice, the first time in seven years since I had been ice skating. The last time I went ice skating was oddly enough in August on a cruise ship, and I ended up falling down twice.

With my last ice skating experience in mind, I set a goal for myself to not fall. As I made my way around the Oval, I learned that reaching my goal would prove harder than I imaged.

Staying along the outside of the rink, I pushed my right foot forward then my left before gliding to a stop only to then repeated the same movements. To say I was moving slowly would be an understatement; it was more like I was moving at a glacial pace.

But I was no where near acclimated to the ice nor coordinated enough to speed up my movement, so slow and steady it was.

"It was like learning how to walk again," Juan Ramirez, of Coahuila, Mexico, said in describing his first experience ice skating, which happened at the Oval.

I agree with him. Skating has a lot to do with maintaining one's balance, and when learning, there will inevitably be moments of unsteadiness and near-falls, if not all out wipeouts.

The closest I came to falling was about midway into my first lap. I felt that my right skate was a little too loose for my comfort, so spotting a bench, I got off the ice and tightened the laces. As soon as I put one foot back onto the ice, I felt it: the feeling of unsteadiness. I thought I was going to fall.

My heart started to beat faster as I waved my arms around trying to regain my balance, pitching dangerously forward and backwards before, by some miracle, I regained my balance.

Watching some of other the skaters zip along the ice, weaving in and out of the other skaters, I wonder how they didn't fall moving at such speeds. They made it look so easy, and they did it with such grace.

I, on the other hand, continued to move across the ice by teetering and shuffling my feet, but I was comforted in seeing that I wasn't the only one. Other skaters moved just as jerkily as I did, some holding onto the hands of friends or family members as they moved forward, since there is no railing to grab for support at the Oval.

Over time I felt more comfortable on the ice and started to move a bit faster, actually managing to pass a few people along the way. I felt so proud of myself because I was getting better.

My finest moment came when a young girl strayed into my path and I was able to swerve around her - avoiding a collision - with relative ease in order to continue my lap.

Feeling a bit more confident in my ice skating abilities, I diverted some of my attention from not falling to soaking in my surroundings.

Here I was in the middle of a cool winter day partaking in an activity from my childhood, enjoying all the learning moments, triumphs and sites that accompanied it. I can only hope to have an opportunity to experience it again this winter season.

Basics facts

The general public can ice skate at the Oval from 7 to 9 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays during the winter season. On Saturdays and Sundays, public skating is available from 1 to 3 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Speed skating sessions also take place at the Oval, and they are scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The Oval's hours can vary on holidays, so a weekly schedule can be found at www.whiteface.com/activities/index.php.

Admission costs $8 for adults and teens, and $5 for juniors (age 12 and younger) and seniors (age 65 and older). People are allowed to bring their own skates to the Oval or they may rent a pair for $3.

Contact Margaret Moran at 518-523-4401 or at mmoran@lakeplacidnews.com

 
 

 

I am looking for:
in:
News, Blogs & Events Web