Take a turn on ice

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The Howelsen Ice Arena offers a wide variety of ice skating programs for locals and tourists.

While youth and adult hockey continues to be popular in Steamboat Springs, ice skating is growing, as well, and rink directors are seeking to find ways to meet the demand.

"We're seeing trends up and up every year," said Stacey Foster, Howelsen Ice Arena manager. "I think as we made a nicer facility for people that word of mouth got out. We are known for having some of the best ice in the state."

Assistant Manager Jim Gregoire has been in the ice-making business for more than two decades, so he is serious about providing the best experience for locals and tourists who visit Howelsen Ice Arena.

He also is the new instructor for a speed-skating program that rink directors are starting in the offseason.

The tentative schedule for winter ice time shows how busy Howelsen Ice Arena is during peak time from November to February.

A Parent-Tot Learn To Skate program is being offered from 11:15 to11:45 a.m. Thursdays. The class is designed to help parents teach their children the basics of ice skating. Adult Learn to Skate follows from noon to 12:30 p.m. Thursdays. These programs are preceded by a public skate and followed by a cheap skate.

Youth Learn to Skate programs are offered from 4 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays to cooperate with school schedules. These programs will teach basics of either hockey or figure skating, Participants will progress through a variety of specific skill levels of instruction. These classes are followed by a cheap skate.

Courtney Gill, programs director at the ice rink, said the winter scheduling was the best she has experienced among all the user groups.

"If you don't support those Learn to Skate programs, nothing else will grow here," Gill said. "We're making sure those base classes got set and had good ice and were scheduled at times when it would work."

Gill also is actively involved in the Steamboat Springs Figure Skating Club. The club has two shows planned this season: a holiday ice show and a spring show, which will include out-of-town guests.

The club skaters also are planning to compete in out-of-town singles competitions and out-of-state synchronized skating team competitions. The popularity of Team Volant, the synchronized skate team, prompted the creation of a mini synchronized skate team for younger skaters ages 5 to 11, Gill said.

Howelsen Ice Arena has a full line of rentals available for all its programs and for its public skates. The arena also is moving toward a more comfortable soft skate, which has a softer boot.

"They just came out with them in the last 12 to 16 months, as we bought some last year and people just raved about them," Foster said.

For program informatino and a skate times schedules, call 970-879-0341.

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