Skaters have outdoor rink options in the Olympic Region

Children play hockey and skate on the town of Wilmington’s outdoor rink. (Provided photo — Tim Follos)

Spending time outdoors — whether under the sun or in the snow — has been a welcome respite for many as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

In the Olympic region, there are plenty of opportunities to participate in winter sports. One of the more accessible options is finding an outdoor rink that’s open for the public to skate, play and fall on.

Lake Placid’s hockey box, by the Olympic Speedskating Oval, has been closed for some time. But the North Elba Park District, which is responsible for maintaining it, is working on getting it up and running.

Last season, the box was closed because of construction at the Lake Placid Middle-High School, according to North Elba Park District Manager Butch Martin. This season, Martin said the department has to find a new water source for it because the old source was removed during construction at the school.

The department cleared the snow out of the box on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

Snow is removed from Mirror Lake Wednesday, Jan. 27 for skating near the municipal beach. (News photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

Public skating on Mirror Lake is open. The path around the lake hasn’t been cleared yet — Martin said there are patches with water and slush, and the path is a work in progress — but two skating areas have been opened near the municipal beach.

“We’re concentrating on the toboggan chute and the beach area right now,” Martin said.

The toboggan chute is opening for the season this weekend. It’ll be open from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Every winter, the department is tasked with creating and maintaining the outdoor skating areas on Mirror Lake. Martin said those areas are safe to open when there are about 6 inches of ice, and the department can get some small equipment out there.

“It was pretty tough to start because people walked on the slush and made footprints,” he said.

Northwood School Hockey Coach Trevor Gilligan clears snow off the ice at the outdoor rink on campus this week. (Provided photo)

Every day, the department’s staff clears off snow from the skating areas with a broom or snowblower, according to Martin. When there’s more ice, the department may be able to use a Zamboni.

As always, the Olympic Speedskating Oval is also open for skating. The current schedule is Monday through Thursday, noon to 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Sunday from noon to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday from noon to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person from Monday to Thursday and on Sunday evening. Tickets are $15 for adults and teens on Friday through Sunday, $12 for juniors and seniors. Skate rentals are $10.

Indoor skating at the Olympic Center is currently unavailable because of the National Women’s Hockey League bubble. But when the series is over, it will reopen for public skating, according to ORDA spokeswoman Elise Ruocco.

The towns of Keene and Wilmington each have outdoor rinks that are open.

The Town of Keene Community Ice Rink is located behind the Keene Community Center, 8 Church St. in Keene. It’s open from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday; from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and again from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday; from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday; 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. The warming hut isn’t open this year, but skates are available free of charge when an attendant is working, according to the Keene Youth Commission. Anyone who uses this rink is required to wear a mask at all times, social distance from other skaters, and sign in at the register for contact tracing. There’s a limit of 15 people skating at one time.

The new outdoor skating rink at Northwood School was put to use this week for students. (Photo provided)

In Wilmington, the rink is at the town park. Skates will be available to borrow on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The town has also asked anyone who skates there to wear a mask at all times and socially distance from others.

Two of Lake Placid’s private schools, Northwood School and North Country School, have outdoor rinks, but those rinks are private.

Northwood School is closed to the public right now, and the rink is only for use by students, according to the school’s Marketing Director Darcy Norfolk. The on-campus rink opened for the first time this season on Jan. 27 after careful preparation by the school’s athletic director and hockey coaches.

North Country School’s rink is a newly added amenity for its students, and it’s not open to the public.