Ice skating caters to all kinds of people. You can enjoy the relaxation of a casual skate around the rink, the thrill of an exciting hockey game, or the creativity of an artistic figure skating routine.
The RoseGarden Ice Arena in Norwich has been supporting skaters of all skill levels for many years. It opened in 1996, when it was owned by the city, and in 2014 it was purchased by Norwich RoseGarden Ice Associates. After the completion of $2 million in renovations in December 2014, the single ice surface is open year-round and hosts numerous programs.
The RoseGarden Ice Arena includes features Ferguson’s Center Ice, a full service pro shop; and Center Ice Pizza, a concession stand; and the Performance Center, a training center to hone the skills of advanced skaters. This center also runs wellness programs for both skaters and non-skaters, with personal trainers and a nutritionist on staff to help develop healthy regimens for each visitor.
Ice skating is a fun, affordable activity for the entire family. It is a good way to exercise, offering both a cardiovascular workout and a way to improve balance, and a wonderful stress relief method.
LEARNING TO SKATE
Parents may be reluctant to sign up for eight weeks of skating lessons, especially if they worry that their child won’t enjoy the activity. In response, the RoseGarden Ice Arena began running trial lessons last year. This lesson serves as an introduction to skating, with topics such as putting on skates, balance, getting around the rink, and recovering from a fall.
“It gives them a little opportunity without a lot of monetary or time commitment to be able to come in and work with the coach to be introduced to the basics,” says Tiesha DiMaggio, general manager of the RoseGarden Ice Arena.
The cost of a trial lesson is $10 for 15 minutes of instruction. If the child is signed up for a lesson that day, the admission and rental fees for the lesson are credited toward the cost of a full eight-week session.
Skaters should be as comfortable as possible during the lesson. DiMaggio says it is usually about 40 degrees in the rink, so you should always have warm clothing. Wear only one pair of socks, since multiple pairs can cause your feet to sweat and become cold.
Falls are to be expected when learning to skate, and a child is less likely to be discouraged if they have the proper safety equipment. Helmets are required, although a regular bike helmet is sufficient. Knee pads and elbow pads are also recommended.
“You want to make sure you’re providing every opportunity for the new skater to have a good time,” says DiMaggio.
Introductory lessons are available for children as young as 3 years old, as well as adults of all ages. So far, the oldest person to take a skating lesson at the RoseGarden Ice Arena was in her early 70s.
Children’s skate aids are available to rent for children who need a little more balance. These seal-shaped devices allow young skaters to steady themselves. Children can also ride on the seal’s back as an adult pushes the skate aid around the rink.
Skaters who take lessons must first register with Learn to Skate USA, which has a $13.25 annual fee. If you don’t own skates, free rentals are available for people taking lessons.
HOCKEY AND FIGURE SKATING
Once a skater has completed the introductory skating lessons, they can continue to develop their skills in other areas. The RoseGarden Ice Arena offers programs for skaters to advance in hockey and figure skating.
Once they learn the pre-requisites of skating, children can transition to Hockey Learn to Skate classes. This instruction covers hockey skating, while Learn to Play Hockey classes introduce sticks and pucks. Children can then advance to Southeastern Connecticut Youth Hockey, a league which plays from September to March. This organization also hosts a house hockey league for those who don’t wish to travel to games.
Adults can learn to play hockey as well. These classes cover topics such as how to set up a play. Once they complete this lesson, participants can join an over 40 group or an adult league. The RoseGarden Ice Arena currently has 16 adult hockey teams of three different skill levels.
Skaters who want to learn figure skating can join a group lesson or sign up for private lessons. The rink has scheduled blocks of time for people who wish to practice figure skating.
The RoseGarden Ice Arena is also home to the Norwich Figure Skating Club, which competes in local, regional, and national competitions. District championships are held in April, and the rink hosts its own competition in July.
“We’ve tried to embrace the dance and gymnastics model with our programming so we can make sure that competitive figure skating is available to the masses,” says DiMaggio.
Other programs are also available to skaters. These include an adult synchronized skating team and Theater on
Ice, which does artistic productions set to music.
The rink regularly hosts special events as well. The Silver Stick Tournament, an international hockey competition, competes at the rink each year. Other visitors have included Julie Chu, a Bridgeport native and member of the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team.
Although several programs have time reserved at the rink, two hours are always left open every day for public skates. During this time, anyone can come onto the ice and try out the activity.
Public skates run from 1:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. on weekdays, 2:40 p.m. to 4:40 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children, military personnel, and seniors. Skate rentals are $4.
In addition to these times, the rink’s popular “Laser Skate” runs every Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. During this time, the regular lights are dimmed and laser lights provide a colorful skating backdrop. Skate aids are not available during Laser Skate, since they’re harder to see in these conditions.
Safety is a key focus of the public skates, so certain activities are not allowed during this time. Figure skating maneuvers are prohibited, as are hockey sticks and pucks.
“We want to maintain a safe environment out on the ice so people don’t have to dodge someone skating the wrong way or doing a jump,” says DiMaggio.
Skaters are also encouraged to make sure their skates are properly sharpened. New skates never come pre-sharpened in the box, and hand-me-down skates may have become dull over time. The pro shop offers skate sharpening to ensure that the blades will work well on the ice.
Double runner skates are not allowed on the rink. While these blades are good for lake skating, their lack of a sharpened edge makes them unsuitable for skating on a polished rink surface.
The RoseGarden Ice Arena is located at 641 New London Turnpike in Norwich. For more information, visit rosegardenicearena.com or call 860-892-2559.