Slip sliding away
Six rinks give skaters plenty of ice to play, practice on.
Young hockey stars-to-be practice their passing and shooting skills at the Teton County rodeo grounds ice rink. BRADLY J. BONER / NEWS&GUIDEView our entire photo gallery >>
By Lindsay Wood, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
January 9, 2013
Before a puck can slide past the goalie or a figure skater can practice jumps and spins, the ice in Teton County’s four outdoor rinks must be made.
It’s a waiting process. The first heavy snowfall marks the time when the waiting is nearly over.
When there’s 6 to 8 inches of powder on the ground, Jackson-Teton County Recreation Center Parks Horticulture Manager Tim Selke boards a backhoe and compacts it to start the rinks. Then he soaks each area — rinks are sited at the rodeo grounds, Owen Bircher Park, Davey Jackson Elementary School and Alta Park — with a layer of water. Once the first layer is frozen, he “spray paints” about 50 more thin layers of water over the area until it’s a solid sheet of ice.
Whether recreational or competitive, ice skating is a way to experience winter sports without any elevation change.
Peak Performance Skating Academy Director Katherine Nicoll recommends skating as a form of exercise or fun.
Gliding along the ice is freeing, she says.
“You experience a variety of movement without the intimidation of a lot of people,” said Nicoll, who is a Chicago transplant and award-winning figure skating coach.
If the outdoor rinks are too chilly, the Snow King Sports and Events Center offers the crispness of ice without the wind and freezing temperatures. The air inside the rink is a relatively balmy 54 degrees.
The academy operates at the center and offers youth and adult skating programs all season long. Nicoll also is developing a competitive program.
One of Peak Performance’s students, 13-year-old Alex Hee, is glad to be back figure skating again since the start of the academy in November. Hee has been skating since she was 9 years old. It has become a passion, and she practices six days a week, in addition to playing on the Lady Moose U19 hockey team.
Coaches like Nicoll or Peak Performance coach Mariah Bartlett are needed for all who practice on the ice.
Bartlett has been coaching children and teenagers for five years, despite being a mere 19 years old herself. She also started skating at the age of 9, but youngsters can strap on a pair of blades as early as 3.
Bartlett loves teaching children almost more than she loves practicing the sport.
“Teaching skating is like having your own kids in a way,” she said.
Peak Performance teaches the basics of ice skating to budding hockey players, too.
Ice hockey is an option for children who would like to start skating in a team environment. The Jackson Youth Hockey league provides an outlet for kids ages 4 to 18 to strap on thick pads, wield sticks and push a puck around the ice. For youngsters 4 to 8, the Mites hockey team incorporates a learn-to-skate program during the season.
Hockey season in Jackson ends in March and picks back up in October. Registration begins in August. To sign up, visit JYHockey.org.
The Grand Teton Skating Academy’s Jackson Hole Winter Wonderland rink is being installed this weekend on Town Square. Its kick-off Stomping of the Pond event is from noon until 3 p.m.
The ice will open Jan. 19 after the water has solidified. The public rink is free and open to anyone with a pair of skates.
The academy, a nonprofit run by professional figure skater Akop Man-oukian, also gives children and adult ice skating lessons. For information, call 733-0066.
Regardless of where or how you skate, Jackson has a variety of places to hit the ice and try a new winter sport.
“I say go for it,” Bartlett said. “Give it a try. It’s great to go on the rink and let your mind go and relax.”
Where to glide
Jackson has six rink choices for ice skaters.
Teton County-Jackson Parks and Recreation maintains four for public use.
The rodeo grounds rink, located on West Snow King Avenue in Jackson, is open from noon to 9 p.m. all week. But it’s reserved for broomball 5:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Owen Bircher Park’s ice rink, on Main Street in Wilson, is open from noon to 8:30 p.m. all week.
The rink at Davey Jackson Elementary School, 155 N. Jean St., is open from noon to 8:30 p.m. all week.
And skaters can hit the ice from noon until dark every day at Alta Park on Ski Hill Road in Alta.
For the most up-to-date hours and information on the county ice rinks, call 739-6789 and press 4.
Snow King Sports and Events Center’s indoor rink is located 100 E. Snow King Ave. Open skate times are noon to 1:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission during these times costs $8 for adults and $6 for kids. Skate rentals cost $3.
Open hockey times are 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and 1:30 to 2:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Admission costs $10 during open hockey times.
Freestyle skating times are scheduled 3 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission costs $8 for all ages.
Weekend public skating times vary. Call 201-1633 or visit SnowKingSEC.com/ai1-calender for weekend times.
The Jackson Hole Winter Wonderland public outdoor rink on Town Square will be open every day, all day, Jan. 19 through March 16.
Family skate events will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays and 3 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The Skate Stop, on the southwest corner of the square, will be open during community skate times with refreshments and skate rentals. Rentals cost $3 per pair.