Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rink Review: The Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon!

In case you haven't heard, Chicago is now home to the world's coolest skating rink. Down by the lakefront, just past Millennium Park, is Maggie Daley Park. And on the north end of the part is the Skating Ribbon. It's a quarter mile loop of ice, about 25' wide (give or take) for your skating pleasure. It curves and bends and winds itself around the (still unfinished) Rock Climbing Wall, and even has some soft inclines for a little adventure! Yes, it's just shy of five feet up and down (Twice!) over a 300' distance. When I saw it, I was a little unnerved! Skating downhill??

But be brave, skaters, and get out your skates! This rink is not for jumping or spinning or any of your repertoire of tricks, but rather just for an outdoor skating session to chill your cheeks, give you a real workout, and make you crave a hot chocolate. The day I went, it was unseasonably warm for December in Chicago, so the ice was very soft. And because Chicago in December is packed with Tourists, it did get crowded fairly quickly. But just to push up the hill and then glide serenely down and around was very fun. You'll skate past casual observers and enchanted children, the usual set of rink rats out for the day, frustrated Figure Showoffs with nowhere to spin, and plenty of newbies struggling up and panicking down.

"But how do they make ice on a hill? Is it real ice?"

Yes, it's very real and I have no idea how they do it. I don't care. It's amazing, and if you have the misfortune to visit Chicago in winter, go visit. It will be unlike anything you've ever skated before, I promise. It made me think of how skating began: Outside, cold, travelling around on a frozen river, touring peacefully in winter. Just casually stroking, hands in my pockets and smiling. It was a lovely thing to do after Ice Show.

Just be sure to stretch afterwards. Those inclines make you work more than you realize! Also, there is a coffee shop inside the lovely Chicago Cultural Center right across Michigan Avenue. Step in to warm up and take in some beautiful art and Chicago History, looking like a total boss with your skates slung over your shoulder.

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