Figure skates, hockey skates and no skates at all
What to wear for the debut of the Park City Ice Arena this weekend? A hat, maybe even a helmet, padding if necessary, and a pair of soft boot rental skates.
Local sporting goods stores are in the process of preparing to offer more equipment next winter, but in the meantime, Park City Ice Arena General Manager Stacy Noonan says the city will have 500 pairs of Riedell Soft Boot rentals, including 200 hockey skates and 300 figure skates.
The soft-shell skates are brand new to the skating world according to Noonan, and Park City will be one of the first all- soft boot rental-skate rinks in the country.
"They don’t last as long as traditional leather skates, but leather skates take forever to break in. [Soft boots] are comfortable, and people will be able to walk out with a good experience," Noonan explained.
She said that in the future, the rink might sell skates, but for now, they will be renting only.
Skates should fit snugly, and feet should be wrapped in one pair of thin socks only, according to the arena’s Skating Director Erica Roberts. The Riedell rentals will be unisex, marked with both men’s and women’s sizes, and tend to stay true to street shoe size, she says.
Roberts will be splitting her time between a rink in Cottonwood Heights in Salt Lake and Park City. She has skated for 24 years (since she was seven, she says) and competed at the world level for synchronized skating in college.
As an experienced skater both competitively and recreationally, one of the issues she especially emphasizes as the rink opens this weekend is head protection.
"We do want safety so we want to encourage people to wear hats if not helmets so that if they fall, it will soften the blow," she says.
For those who want to purchase skates, Roberts recommends Replay Consignment, Gart Sports, Play It Again Sports in Salt Lake and the Murray Ice Arena pro shop, also in Salt Lake.
The rink will sharpen skates for $8 for an immediate job, and $6 if the skater is willing to wait for 24 hours for their skates, she says.
Jim Dingle, the arena’s assistant manger, and a hockey player and coach since 1975, says for those serious about skating, investing in equipment is worthwhile and affordable.
New skates are primarily made out of synthetic material that is less expensive than leather, he says – hockey skates these days run about $45 to $50 a pair. Unlike ski boots, he adds, people can keep the same equipment for more than a decade.
"If they’re really interested, equipment lasts," he confirms.
For hockey skates, Dingle advises purchasing hockey skates two sizes small, and like ski boots take the time in a store to walk around in your skates for half an hour, he says.
Dingle is currently working with local shops to establish a hockey equipment and skate-leasing program especially designed for growing kids who may need new sizes each year.
But some ice arena enthusiasts may not need to rent or buy anything for their feet, says Dingle.
"We’ve gotten a lot of calls about broomball, which is for those novice and curious about the sport [of hockey]. Basically, you just wear your tennis shoes and carry a modified broom and play," he said.
Dingle, like Roberts and Noonan, is confident that ice skaters and broomballers of all abilities will enjoy the new complex.
"We’re feeding off the fervor of the Olympics and right now people love hockey so much. This [arena] is going to take off like wildfire," he says.
Register for a free ticket for the Park City Ice Arena’s Grand Opening Weekend at City Hall, the City Racquet Club and the Basin Field House or online at http://www.pcice.org.
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