I love having new people at the rink during the holidays, and really hope most of them stick around for the rest of the year. When I'm in the lobby at public skate sessions, and people see Stitch, they'll sometimes ask me about classes and things. I'll happily answer, tie skates, and loan gloves.
But Public Skate sessions around the holidays can get a little crazy, simply because everyone and their dog shows up. Literally. I spotted a cocker spaniel puppy in the lobby not too long ago. The sheer mass of people who don't skate can make things a little dangerous.
So, let's say you're a family on holiday break, wanting to visit the rink up the road for some funtime ice skating. How do you make sure it's actually fun and not a trip to the ER?
Did you just get some new skates as a gift? Great! Make sure they're sharpened before you hit the ice. Some poor little boy showed up in new hockey skates and collapsed for ten minutes before his mom asked me to check things. They still had the weird "Factory Edge" on them, not a proper edge.
Are you renting skates? Make sure you get the right size, and make sure you tie them properly. And when I say, "tie them properly," I don't mean that you do some awesome macrame job on the excess lace while leaving the lace hooks sad and empty.
Tie them properly means: Loosen the laces all the way down the foot. Stick your socked foot in there, and tighten the laces, one by one, so you're comfortable. Don't cut off your circulation in the name of support. Lots of lace? I bring the laces OVER the lace hooks and around, all the way up the ankle (again, tight enough to support but don't make a tourniquet) and bring them down and around the lace hook set to eat up that extra lacing. Or tuck the excess into your long sock. But don't wrap it around the ankle of the boot, because that interferes with movement, and don't let it drag. You will trip over it. It's one of those Murphy's Laws of skating; what can be tripped over, will be tripped over.
Dress in layers, so you can peel off accordingly. Our rink gets Polar in winter, but most days it's comfortable in a light jacket. Pants, please, and gloves for when you fall.
While that cute little skating dress is very cute, she's shivering. This is one of those parental moments where you make them wear a jacket, no matter how much they protest. 'Kay? Oh, and if you put her in that cute skating dress, know that the Big Skaters wear thick skating tights to cover their legs. Not a one of them goes out bare legged, so please don't let your little girl do it! (Seen it!)
And while you may want to get your budding Wayne Gretzky "used to the helmet and pads," it seems counterproductive to send your three year old out in full hockey gear to learn to skate. One thing at a time, maybe?
This seems to be the single biggest challenge for our Holiday Public Skating sessions.
So you can't skate. This is fine. Go slow, hold onto the wall, and take it easy. You'll start getting it eventually.
Please don't march on the ice, flail wildly and start imitating Plushenko as you enjoy some self deprecating humor. While it is comic, it's very dangerous to yourself and others.
Please don't scream at your little skaters to get off the wall/do something cool/"gliiiiiiiide!!" or whatever. They'll let do it when they're ready.
Please keep a sense of Situational Awareness. Stay alert to slower or faster skaters around you, and don't think others are automatically watching out for you. They likely aren't!
Please don't assume Rink Staff are just a bunch of meanie heads out to spoil your fun. Obey rink rules. You wouldn't challenge a Lifeguard, so don't challenge the Rink Guard.
Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not pick up and carry your little skaters. One of my greatest horror stories is of a mom who picked up her tot, lost her balance, and fell on her tot's head. Other parents have fallen while carrying kids, but this one was the best. To this day I get the serious heebie jeebies when I see a nonskating mom pick up a reluctant tot and carry her while skating.
On the sidelines? This is okay, but please don't walk on the ice with your camera. Yes, I know, you've likely been introduced to that other Murphy's Law of Skating; If they do anything cool, someone or something blocks the view. It's just something you have to deal with.
Remember Budding Wayne Gretzky? Please don't yell at him. Or push him down. Or snowplow him. Or fling him across the ice. This is just sad, really. Unless you're looking to make Figure Skating Moms look like Angels, please don't engage in abusive behavior towards your Little Hockey Boy.
I've seen some great things at Public Skates, and I've seen some pretty awful things at Public Skates. Bottom line, it's what you do that makes it fun or not.
Oh, and Please buy something from the Concession Stand during resurface! Support the Rink you're at, and nothing makes a skating memory more fun than popcorn and hot chocolate to warm chilled fingers!