Saturday, June 24, 2017

Colorado Springs Could Be a Figure Skating Fairyland

May 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured Articles

By Jo Ann Schneider Farris

When I was a young ice skater, when SKATING Magazine arrived each month, I couldn’t wait to read every article and look at every photo.  I even enjoyed looking at the advertisements!  One photo, that always intrigued me was a photo of the beautiful Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The mountains in the photo behind the rink looked breathtaking.  I was sure that Colorado Springs had to be an ice skater’s fairyland.  I pleaded with my parents to allow me to visit that figure skating paradise someday.

Eventually, I did visit Colorado Springs and The Broadmoor.  I was fortunate.  As time passed, I became one of the lucky skaters who trained at that ice skating utopia.  It was a wonderful experience that I’ve always cherished.

Like many Colorado Springs skaters, I was very, very sad when the Broadmoor World Arena was torn down in 1994, but the city of Colorado Springs looked forward to a new and more modern facility, the Colorado Springs World Arena Ice Hall, to replace that rink.  After much excitement and anticipation, the Colorado Springs World Arena Ice Hall opened its doors in 1996.  I was there on opening day.  I remember the excitement when some of the skaters I taught cut the opening day ribbon.  Our city rejoiced.

Those of us who live in Colorado Springs wondered what future the beautiful facility would have.  Would the wonderful tradition that had gone on for decades in Colorado Springs continue at the new facility?  The rink had been built, but would figure skating champions and would figure skaters from all over the world continue to come?  Would the magic continue?

Nearly twenty years later, the answer to those questions is obviously YES.  Figure skaters from all over the world come to Colorado Springs year after year.

What is a typical day like in the Colorado Springs World Arena Ice Hall facility and why do skaters and their families keep coming?

Figure skating sessions are offered daily on two ice sheets from early morning until the early evening.  One ice sheet is NHL size and the other is Olympic size.  Single skaters train on one ice sheet, while ice dancers and pairs skaters train on the other.  Even during the school year, many sessions are full.  Freestyle sessions are divided by test level.  There is also a session held in the late afternoon daily that is exclusively for  national and international level single skaters.

During the fall, winter, and spring, the arena’s day begins with freestyle sessions beginning at 5:45 am.  Ice dancers arrive at 6:30 am, but continue in forty-five minute increments until 8:45 am.  The ice is resurfaced at 8:45 am followed by dance-pair sessions until 11:15 am.  A pair only session follows at 11:30 am and then another dance-pair session goes on at 12:15 pm.  The morning in the NHL rink includes back to back forty-five minute freestyle sessions grouped by figure skating test level.  Young and lower level skaters train before school, but more back to back freestyle sessions for Preliminary to Senior levels continue from 8 am until noon.

Public activities happen during the noon hour.  Public skating goes on on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while pick-up hockey occurs on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

In the afternoon, another dance-pair session goes on in the NHL ice sheet starting at 1:25 pm, then more back to back freestyle sessions for various levels take up the rest of the afternoon hours.  The last freestyle ends at 6:15 pm.  The Olympic ice sheet continues its afternoons with a high level freestyle session followed by more pairs only or dance-pair sessions and the late afternoon national-international freestyle.  On Wednesday evenings, power stroking classes for intermediate and high levels take place.

On Saturdays, the arena continues to be full of actiivity.  Non-stop figure skating sessions for all figure skating disciplines, singles, pairs, and dance, go on in the NHL rink, while activities for the public go on in the Olympic rink.  Learn to Skate Classes are available both on Saturday mornings and in the evenings on Tuesday.  There is an evening public skating session available before the Tuesday evening classes during the school year.

In the summers, almost all of the ice time is devoted to figure skating, but some hockey takes place in the evening hours.

Two of the coaches at the Colorado Springs World Arena provide lessons on the pole harness.  Dartfish technology is also available.  In addition, an off-ice area with a harness can be used by the World Arena’s resident and visiting coaches and standard on-ice harnesses are used on both ice sheets.  Off-ice ballet classes are offered at least two days a week, and more more off-ice dance classes are available during the summer.

The World Arena is a designated Olympic training rink, so elite athletes and their coaches visit the arena regularly.  Skaters also come from all over the world to work with Colorado Springs choreographers.  The high alttitude also gives skaters an advantage.

Opportunites for skaters to perform in front of an audience in weekly exhibitions are made available through the Broadmoor Skatng Club’s Fire and Ice exhibitions which take place on Friday evenings.

Many skating families move to Colorado Springs or come for a visit not just because of skating, but because of the happy and healthy lifestyle that the city provides.  People in Colorado Springs are friendly and happy.  A visit to Colorado Springs also must include a trip to US Figure Skating’s museum and a trip to the US Olympic Training Center.  No matter what,  in my opinion, every figure skater or ice skating fan needs to visit the place that some people call the “Center of Figure Skating!”

Happy Skating!

Jo Ann Schneider Farris has written hundreds of articles about skating. Her articles  have been published in SKATING Magazine, The Professional Skater, Recreational  Ice Skating, and have been included in US Figure Skating Online, icenetwork.com,  Examiner.com, and About.com. She has been About.com’s Guide to Figure  Skatingsince 2006. In 2010, Jo Ann represented About.com at the Winter Olympics in  Vancouver. She has been a competitive skater and skating coach, and has directed  both Ice Skating Institute and U.S. Figure Skating programs. In addition, her own  three children are competitive figure skaters who have competed multiple times in both pair skating and ice dancing at the regional, sectional, and junior national levels. In addition, Jo Ann is the author of How to Jump and Spin on Inline Skates. She is a member of U.S. Figure Skating, Ice Skating Institute, the Professional Skaters Association, and the Broadmoor Skating Club.

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