Monday, May 20, 2013

What color is your ice pass, and more observations about Wheaton Ice Arena

Around here ice passes come in two flavors:  your basic stick-on rectangle or a wrist band.  Bowie issues the different colored stick-on passes while Piney and Wheaton prefer the wrist band thingies.  I like the  stickers because I can't get the wrist band type around my wrist when I have my wrist guards on.  Otherwise the band is hidden and the ice monitor must either take my word for it that I've paid or I have to remove the wrist guard to show the pass.  Are there other types of ice passes?  What does your rink issue?
I skated at Wheaton again this past Saturday and made two interesting observations: 1. the ice monitor was on figure blades rather than the ubiquitous hockey blades and 2. when conditions permitted she wiled away the time practicing swing rolls and double 3s.  When was the last time you saw an ice monitor do either?!  Of course I should mention that Wheaton Ice Arena is one of three rinks which the Wheaton Ice Skating Academy uses for training.  The other two are Cabin John and Rockville.  More about WISA can be found here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Displaced to foreign parts: wherein the wandering Bowegian goes to Wheaton Ice Arena

Wheaton Ice Arena is located just off of Arcola Ave. in Wheaton, Maryland.  Like an endangered Polar bear one sees in a public television nature program devoted to global warming, your diarist has been forced to desperately scan the horizon for an ever dwindling source of new ice in order to survive.  First Bowie Ice Arena shut down for annual maintenance and then Piney Orchard also closed in order to resurface their rink.  This week I'm taking Horace Greeley's advice and find myself "going west".  Wheaton is a bit of a hike around the beltway from Bowie but isn't too far from my lab at Beltsville.  Yes, the Ice Garden at Laurel, Maryland is closer but their public session schedule doesn't jive well with my work schedule, so over to Wheaton I went.  I took off from the lab at 3:30 this afternoon which allowed plenty of time to arrive for the 4:30 to 6 pm public session. I inquired as to whether or not they had a geezer rate and was rewarded by saving a buck ($5.50 vs $6.50).  While I was lacing up a kid in hockey skates jumped out on the ice before the Zamboni operator had closed the end rink doors which is a major no-no on every rink I've ever skated.  He was promptly chastised for his breach of etiquette.  After we were finally allowed to step out on the ice I saw the ice monitor setting up cones on the four red dots which surround the center circle.  Since this is something not done at my home ice I asked her about the significance and she said they put the cones out to create a space where traffic doesn't cross into so that folks can practice their edges, spins, etc. without fear of an ice tourist invading the space at an inopportune time.  How civilized!  When I revealed that I was a displaced skater wandering from rink to rink while my home ice was being refurbished, she indicated that this rink will also close for a few weeks in late June or early July. When that happens most of the Wheaton skaters will migrate to the rink at Cabin John.  For me the exodus will probably extend to the rink at Rockville.  My wanderings will finally end on the 6th of July when Bowie reopens.  The Wheaton rink is part of a large county sports complex that features a park with soccer and base ball fields.  Along with the above indoor rink. this complex also has an outdoor rink which functions during winter.  Wheaton Ice Arena is the home of a well known ice dance school.  My impression of the rink is that the facility is very nice, well lighted and has the sensation of good management and maintenance that one comes to expect from a county or city run rink.  Although I skated a late afternoon public session that featured on-going LTS lessons, (which put about a third of the ice off limits), it was never crowded.  My main problem was that I hadn't skated in roughly a week and it took me most of the hour and a half just to claw my way back to where I was when I last skated at Piney last Friday.  But when one only skates once a week instead of four or five times, skills do erode.  I commiserated with a girl who, like myself, was trying to get her half-flip jump under control.  After the public session ended I headed home.  The next session was a level-2 free-style session.  Both too advanced and too spendy for your thrifty diarist.  I'll probably return to Wheaton a few more times before moving on to Rockville.  If you skate at Wheaton and see a white haired geezer come over and say "hi"--I won't bite!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Piney Orchard: another rink goes off-line

Piney Orchard Ice Arena, Odenton, Maryland; the new "not" home of displaced Bowie skaters.

  We've been skating here since the end of last month but last night was the last public session before Piney also shuts down to redo their sheet.  They reopen the Tuesday after Memorial Day, but my schedule doesn't jive with theirs until the first week of June.  This is particularly annoying since my funky LFO3 is finally just starting to click in a reliable way, and in turn, I'm getting a little better at executing the half-flip jump which depends on that turn.  We'll see if my progress has stuck or evaporated by the time I get to skate again.  Piney generally doesn't shut down, but last year's hurricane knocked the electricity off long enough for the ice to melt.  When the juice came back on and the ice refroze on it's own all the hockey lines, logos, face off circles etc. were blurry and faded.  There's been enough complaining that rink management decided to shut the place down and repaint the sheet and bring up new ice.  This should  be a major improvement for Piney, which in my opinion needs a bit of a spruce up.  Now if we could just get them to leave more of the lights on during publics...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Painting Ice: How do they do that???

Ever wonder how an ice rink surface is painted?  All those lines, circles, face-off dots, team logos, advertisements, rink names, etc., etc.  Most people think the paint is applied to dry concrete and then the rink is flooded and ice is built up.  Not quite.  Watch this video first (for some reason it won't download from youtube properly, so click the underlined link).  It best explains the process.  Then watch the time lapse videos of crews painting the ice below.  They will give you an appreciation of the work that goes on before your blades touch the ice.  I hope to get over to my rink in June when they start the painting process to see it first hand.