By Olga Kusztelska
In December, my partner and I booked a getaway to spend a few days in Tiny Township. We were really looking forward to getting back on our skate skis. After the lockdown was announced, our plans were blown to smithereens, but what can one day do?? We thought of Plan B, which involved a day trip to Kawartha Nordic. Perfect! we said to ourselves. We booked a car and counted the days to our trip. As the day approached, we thought… hmmmm… a two-hour drive each way… that’s maybe not so bad on the way there, but driving back that long when we are tired…? Nah…
We thought: we miss the Trakkers bus and taking a nap on the way home after a full day of skiing!
So we decided to go… skating! Local, free, and fun!
My only problem was that my skates had not touched ice for over 13 years. I regarded them with suspicion. Then I thought that this was a perfect opportunity to practice skating and, maybe, just maybe, learn a proper technique that could even help me with my balance on skate skis. I was nervous but also curious and excited. Learning to properly balance on ice skates is important, just like proper balance is key to skate skiing. The skate skiing stride is very similar to ice skating. In ice skating, however, you will gain more momentum faster with less effort. While most ice skating techniques might not be transferable to skate skiing, I remain convinced that learning how to balance well on your skates can be very beneficial to keeping balance on your skate skis.
Here is a short video that might help if you are making your first steps on ice skates:
Get out and skate!
On the City of Toronto’s website we learned that we first had to get our family number for our household and separate client numbers for me and my partner. You can find out how to do this by accessing this link:
Once you have your family and client numbers, you can register for skating for any of the 54 locations across the city by either calling or going online. It is actually quite simple, BUT the capacity is 25, and many rinks fill up quickly. Registration opens one week in advance at 8 a.m. and allows for 20 spots, leaving five spots for walk-ins. If you want to secure a spot, it is best to get online or call shortly after 8 a.m. (You can also keep on checking the website if the spots became available in the meantime, because it does happen). If your plans change, you can always cancel. If you are unable to snatch a spot in advance, you can always try a walk-in, as often many people do not show up. I have not been turned away yet! (especially on a weekday).
The interactive map is very easy to use. You can just click on the location that interests you, and a dialog box pops up where you can click further to access the registration platform. It takes less than 5 minutes.
My first couple of times on the skates were like a “Bambi on ice” experience, but I am getting better. Skate time is about 45 minutes, which is more than enough for me. I particularly like the first skate window at 10 a.m. after the Zamboni goes over the ice and leaves the surface (generally) as smooth as glass. It is a new found winter activity for me, and I really like it. We are still hoping for a ski trip soon, but in the meantime, we keep on skating! So if you are unable to ski, try skating instead!