Arena to shut down for use by skating club

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— The Steamboat Springs Figure Skating Club has negotiated a contract giving it exclusive use of the Howelsen Ice Arena for nearly one month this summer.

From July 7 to Aug. 1, the figure skating club will run a summer skating program in an effort to see how successful it could become in the community.

"This is the test season. Then we'll have the winter to market a figure-skating program for next summer," rink manager Stacey Foster said. "Figure skating is a year-round thing for these kids. They have to skate in the summer for them to be competitive."

Foster said members of the figure skating club have spent recent summers traveling to Vail and Denver rinks for ice time.

Being able to skate in Steamboat during the warmer months will significantly cut down on travel costs for skaters.

Clubs traditionally travel out of town for several weeks during the summer to train, and clubs from outside of Steamboat already have expressed interest in using Howelsen for portions of their summer training, Foster said.

The idea is to bring in big-name instructors to encourage visiting clubs to travel and train in Steamboat.

Howelsen usually isn't open during the summer months, but the Steamboat Springs Figure Skating Club has agreed to pay all utility expenses and cleaning costs incurred while using the facility.

The three full-time employees of Howelsen will be on hand to operate the Zamboni during the month the club has reserved the ice, Foster said.

Howelsen is scheduled to close May 11. It will reopen for public use Aug. 4.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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