Tag Archive | "ice skating"

Bronx Kids: Lace Up Your Skates

The new skating rink under construction in Van Cortlandt Park. (MARGARET BADORE / TheBronx Ink)

For the past three decades, any Bronx child who wanted to learn to figure skate or play hockey had to travel to either Yonkers, Rye, or one of Manhattan’s outdoor park rinks.

“When I started skating the closest rink was Rye Playland,” said Lauren Hunt, 27, who grew up in Throgs Neck and is now the skating school director at World Ice Arena in Flushing, Queens. Few of her friends in Throgs Neck knew how to skate. “I was fortunate enough to have a mother who was willing to drive to Westchester and beyond.”

A new city ice skating rink in Van Cortlandt Park is expected to  to change this. Scheduled to open on November 15th, the new outdoor rink promises public skating sessions, performances and a skating school where children and adults can take classes.

Van Cortlandt Park was once home to a seasonal rink near the tennis courts, but it has been closed since 1983. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to bring an ice rink back to Van Cortlandt Park during his State of the City address at the beginning of 2011. A partnership between RD Management and Ekstein Development, which runs rinks elsewhere in New York City, won the bid to build it from the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy.

According to project manager Ron Kraut, the conservancy hopes to attract 50,000 to 60,000 visitors between November 15 and March 1. During the same four-month period last winter, World Ice Arena had over 82,000 visitors and City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City saw just under 33,000 skaters.

The rink’s management tapped Alana Kelton to run the skating school in part because her in-laws owned the prior Van Cortlandt Park rink, once known as Kelton’s Tennis and Ice Skating.  “I was familiar with the Riverdale area,” she said. Kelton has been teaching ice skating for over 40 years and is also the director of skating at the Hommocks Park ice rink in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

The skating school plans to follow the Ice Skating Institute’s learn-to-skate program, which is geared towards teaching new students the fundamentals. These classes teach basic skills needed to play hockey, figure skate or just ice skate for fun. Kelton said she likes the Institute’s program because the levels progress sensibly and allow skaters to move up quickly.

The new rink will be primarily aimed at recreational skating. “We’re going to focus on what the community wants,” said Kristi Tortorella, the general manager. “It’s mainly there as a service for the community, rather than being a competitive facility for skaters.”

Terence Mulvey, a Riverdale resident, said he thinks a nearby rink will be good for the area. He is considering enrolling his 7-year-old son in skating lessons. “Just yesterday, he expressed an interest in playing hockey,” said Mulvey.

For Kraut, the ice rink is a social gathering place where young people, families and children can find a common interest. “Our objective is to teach the Bronx how to skate.”

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