Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - December 2013

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Ice, ice baby! Hudson Valley's best skating rinks By KATHLEEN WILLCOX E ven if you'll never be able to master the triple Salchow or a graceful Lutz, you can still relish the rush that comes from gliding across a slick ice rink on a pair of sharp blades. For some Hudson Valley parents, ice skating with their children is a ritual of winter family fun, eagerly anticipated as the cold weather sets in. "There's something about getting all bundled up in warm and cozy layers with the cold brisk air outside that makes us breathe a little deeper, smile a little wider, and enjoy being in the present moment," says Diane Hoch, a Bardonia mother of three teenage girls. "I love taking my girls — and as many friends as they can fit in the car — to the outdoor rink in the mountains. What a magical place with the lights both on the ice rink and in the twinkling night sky." Hoch's favorite place to slip and slide is the Bear Mountain Ice Rink, which she says holds many memories for her family. "We have gone there to celebrate birthday parties, Friday nights, Sunday afternoons, and even ushered in the New Year with friends one New Years Eve!" For other parents embarking on the teenage years with their children, a little togetherness at the rink goes a long way. "We can both skate, but it's not going to be together, as that would not be cool," Jean Ralston of Lagrangeville says of her 13-year-old daughter, Kate. Despite the thaw in their hand-held ice skating sessions, Ralston and her daughter both speak warmly of the McCann Ice Arena at the Mid-Hudson 30 Hudson Valley Parent n Hudson Valley Parent cover kid Raquel laces up at Ice Time Sports Complex inNewburgh. Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, where Ralston has been taking Kate since she was able to strap on her first pair of blades. "Kate learned there in their learnto-skate program," Ralston says. "They offered a free lesson with the price of skates and admission. We went several weeks in a row until she had the basics down.  It was affordable and now she is a fairly confident skater." Confident enough to hold her 14th birthday party there on Dec. 3. "Ice skating is the perfect December birthday activity," says Kate. "It's fun and easy in the cold days of December." For some, ice skating with their December 2013 children is as much about finding them new outlets for their athleticism and building blocks for their confidence as it is about family fun. And the affordable figure skating and hockey lessons available at local rinks are a real plus for parents. Rachel Napolitano, a Saugerties mother of two, is thrilled with the classes and coaches at the Kiwanis Ice Arena in Saugerties. "We tried their free introduction program, and it was really great," says Napolitano. Her 5-year-old son, Maverick, said he really liked that at end of session he skated on his own a little bit, and her 7-year-old daughter, Molly, who at the beginning was too nervous to get on ice, said she really liked that a coach was there to help her. "The coach really helped Molly gain confidence," says Napolitano, "and Maverick was helped the entire time as well by a volunteer coach. I know many older kids on hockey teams now that say they started young in the learn-to-play program. I also really like that they have such inexpensive and even free opportunities that give people a chance to enjoy the rink." If those aren't enough reasons to get revved for the ice season, there's an added bonus: the extra calories you burn staying verticle (about 225 calories for 30 minutes) can go toward a large hot chocolate with a dollop of whipped cream after hanging up your blades. Kathleen Willcox is a freelance writer who lives in Carmel with her husband and 1-year-old twins.

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