Tis’ the season – for ice skating. Winter is approaching and with that comes to mind a fun activity, whether inside or outside, the kids will sure to love. Check out our guide to places in the area that offer ice skating lessons as well as open skate options.
ICE SKATING LESSONS
KOHA’s (Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association) Learn to Skate program was designed and implemented by a Western Michigan University graduate student with a hockey and education background. KOHA Learn to Skate is open to girls and boys, whether they have an interest in playing hockey or not. KOHA has sets of basic protective equipment available for rent, first come – first served. Skaters must have a certified hockey helmet, skates & winter gloves or mittens. Knee and elbow protection is strongly suggested.
KOHA begins with teaching skaters how to stand up and fall down. Skaters are divided into groups of about 10, with an adult volunteer assisting KOHA’s program leader. Throughout the program duration, skaters will learn forward gliding and skating, backwards skating, hockey stops, left to right and right to left turns and front to back and back to front turns. Proper (efficient) skating technique is emphasized.
The Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association (GKSA) is an US Figure Skating-affiliated organization. It is a non-profit, volunteer organization that offers various opportunities for people of all ages, abilities and interests to introduce or advance their skating skills. Opportunities offered by GKSA include Group Lessons – Figure, Recreational and Hockey Skating, Private Lessons – Figure skating (moves, freestyle, dance), and Teams – Synchronized Skating and High School level.
GKSA offers evening lessons year round on Sundays and Tuesdays. Skaters (who are placed in small groups by age and ability) learn the fundamentals of the sport. Skaters learn proper techniques, improve balance and coordination and promote physical fitness all while having fun.
Located on Romence Road in Portage, Millennium Park is the area’s first outdoor refrigerated ice rink. Skates are available for rental on-site. Millennium has a warming house and a concession stand offering hot chocolate and other goodies. Visit the website for exact skate hours or call the Information Hotline: (269) 324-9200 to confirm the rink is open.
Not sure you want to commit to lessons? Here are some options for open skate times in the area.
OPEN SKATING OPTIONS
Located off of 9th street in Kalamazoo, public skating is available at Wings West (WW) daily. It is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with friends or teach the little ones to skate.
Public Skate Times
Tuesday thru Friday 11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Saturday 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Sunday 2:00 p.m. – 3:45 pm
Lawson Ice Arena on the campus of WMU offers open skate times during the weekdays and on weekends. Saturday and Sunday skate times are generally from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm for a minimal charge. Call Lawson’s hotline number (269) 387-3046 for updated times, dates or cancellations.
Located at 280 Romence Road, Portage, MI. This outdoor rink which is operated by the Portage Recreation Department is a great place to do outdoor skating. It is conveniently located in Portage and offers the whole family a fun place to skate outdoors.
This large outdoor refrigerated rink features skate rental, skate sharpening, snack concessions, restrooms, warming house, lockers and an excellent skating surface! Call (269) 324-9200 for more information.
Located near Richland on East “H” Avenue in Kalamazoo, Echo Valley hosts a variety of winter activities that will sure to delight the family, young and old. They have a 43,000 square foot ice rink that allows for lots of practice in an uncrowded environment.
Bring your own skates or skates are available in the skate shop. Echo Valley is open on Saturday and Sunday’s and on the weekdays during holiday breaks. They only accept cash or check, no credit cards. Check out their website for pricing and other information.
Otsego Ice Rink
Free ice skating. Who doesn’t love free? You will need to bring your own skates as there are no rental skates. The rink is located on the corner of Court and Farmer streets, near the Otsego District Museum. For more information, call 269-692-3391.