Skating the Summit
Keystone’s 5-acre lake, located in Keystone Village, is North America’s largest and highest Zamboni-maintained ice rink. Because of its grand scale, skaters may mill about the smooth surface in any pattern rather than conforming to the circular patterns expected at indoor rinks.
The lake opens at 10 a.m. with freshly resurfaced ice. Throughout the day, three Zambonis resurface portions of the ice, working six out of the 12 hours the rink remains open daily.
Perhaps the most beautiful time to skate is when the full moon’s light reflects off the glistening ice and illuminates the snow-capped mountain peaks. Each night is magical, however, as 30-foot Christmas trees, each with approximately 3,000 lights, add ambiance to the lake.
The lake offers fun for everyone – from toddlers on sleds to hockey players. Skate rentals begin at baby size 6 (though no double-bladed skates are available) and include figure and hockey skates. Parents may rent sleds and walkers for their young ones.
For proficient hockey players, Keystone offers a lighted hockey rink with boards and two nets and another boarded rink for practicing shots. The lake usually opens in early or mid-December, as soon as the ice measures 1 foot thick, so the Zambonis don’t sink. Two of the smaller ice-surfacing machines weigh 7,040 pounds, and the large one weighs 13,700 pounds.
“Despite everyone thinking we sink a Zamboni every winter, we’re going on four years without sinking it,” said Mike Byrne, a Zamboni driver for the rink.
Space heaters in the Sports Shack keep skaters toasty, and the surrounding restaurants offer everything from pizza and hot chocolate to gourmet meals. Santa Claus skates with other costumed characters throughout the holiday season.
River Run debuts its new rink in place of the Park Lane Pavilion tent this winter. The rink will act as a social gathering place, with beach parties on ice Tuesdays, featuring leis, beverages and beach tunes. Admission prices will be announced.
Copper Mountain Resort
What is a village without an enchanting ice skating rink? Copper Mountain reopens skating on its West Lake, adjacent to the Center Village. A heated staging area allows skaters to lace up comfortably before stepping onto the 55,000-square-foot, frozen pond. A boardwalk and fire pit accent the rink, and the picnic area is the perfect place to snack.
Nonskaters can pass time perusing the surrounding shops, and skaters may grab hot chocolate, cotton candy and a variety of other fun foods nearby.
The 9600′ Retail Shop rents skates hourly, and admission is free for those with their own skates.
The rink opens at 11 a.m. daily and glows with four submerged blue lights and one white light shining through ice at night. The rink closes at 9 p.m.
The views of Breckenridge Ski Resort are breathtaking from Maggie Pond, located at the base of the ski area, next to Main Street Station. A Zamboni clears the rink, open daily from dawn to dusk. A small fee is required to skate.
For skaters who prefer indoor rinks, the Stephen C. West Ice Arena offers a full schedule of lessons, drop-in hockey sessions and public skating.
Anyone can race onto the ice at indoor public skating sessions, call the resort for more information.
A comprehensive figure skating program offers recreational programs, as well as lessons and practice sessions geared toward more competitive skaters. The Summit Figure Skating Club, with about 30 members, offers ice time to club and nonclub figure skaters The outdoor rink at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena hosts drop-in hockey. Typically, the rink is used by hockey players for stick and puck practice throughout the week.
“It’s probably one of the nicest outdoor rinks that you’ll find,” said Kevin Zygulski, assistant manager of the rink. “It’s much cleaner ice than pond ice, and the artificial rink refrigeration system keeps conditions optimal. We can change the temperature to suit the environment, and sun shades keep the ice protected from afternoon sun. It has NHL-sized basher boards and glass, which gives somewhat of an indoor feel, but you do have fresh air and cooler temperatures.”
Little known to visitors, Silverthorne’s North Pond offers free skating to the public. The town maintains the frozen pond, located on the corner of Highway 9 and Hamilton Creek Road north of I-70, with a four-wheel vehicle rigged with buckets of water. Though skaters shouldn’t expect a smooth-as-glass finish, the pond offers an out-of-the-way, frozen corner of the world on which to glide. A small parking lot and an old bus shelter are available for visitors.
Skate under the moonlight at the Meadow Creek Pond, located next to the transit center, behind Wal-Mart. The Public Works Department clears the pond of snow, and skating is free. Though the area is not lit, the rink is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Benches and a pavilion surround the pond, giving much needed breaks from skating.
Most outdoor rinks open in mid-December and close in late February or early March, depending on weather conditions.
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