Be an Olympian, or at least pretend to be, in all kinds of icy sports.
By Kathleen Clove
Where do hockey sticks, slippery rocks, cleats and a giant disco ball come together? The Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns welcomes all of it, and then some. The complex was originally built for the 2002 Salt Lake Games. Today, the indoor ice skating rink serves as a recreation center and training ground for us plain folk wanting to try our hand at speed skating, curling, hockey and regular ol’ ice skating. Worldly adoration is optional.
Strap on your skates and take off on the “Fastest Ice on Earth.” While you could imagine you’re racing in the 400-meter finals, you can also simply appreciate the long straightaways as you perfect your long glide. Slip sliding away, slip sliding awaaaay …
Generally, the Utah Olympic Oval public skate is open evenings Monday through Saturday.
September to March
Monday through Thursday: 7-9 p.m.
Friday: 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.
May to August
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 7-9 p.m.
Check the Oval website for extended holiday hours. There is no public skating in April. Admission is $6.
You can rent hockey or figure skates onsite. (Sorry, you have to bring your own speed skates.) There are youth sizes, 6 and up, and adult skates, up to size 15. Rentals are $5.
If you like a bit more tactile interaction while you skate, sign up to play with a local hockey club. Take a class to learn basic skills if you’re new to the sport, or just want a refresher. There are teams for youth of all ages and adults. The adult teams, including a co-ed one, compete in a summer league. Even more refreshing than lemonade.
Admit it. While you never expected to be passionate about sweeping, curling is a little intriguing. “Aim better, dude! Is it really that difficult to slide a disc across the ice?” Here’s your chance to stop being a backseat athlete and try it out yourself. You’ll even get to use the same stones used in the 2002 Games. Rock on!
No more excuses that it’s too cold — or ridiculously slick — to go running. The ice rink of the Olympic Oval is surrounded by a four lane rubberized track. The 442-meter track is marked to NCAA and World Athletics standards, but you don’t have to be a star to feel comfortable running there. You can even unofficially test your sprinting mettle if you want, on the eight-lane 110-meter sprint zone. During the winter months, you may find yourself running alongside a member of a high school indoor track club. Are you faster than a 10th grader? Track admission is $4.
Not so sure about putting your life in the hands of two thin blades? Take some lessons, which are available for tots and adults. For those who’ve mastered the basics, you can sign up for figure skating classes. Prefer gliding like a bullet across the ice? Speed skating lessons are available, too.
Dinner and a movie is so overdone. Check out some of the weekend and seasonal events held at the Oval.
Cosmic Curling: the board becomes a ’90s neon paradise, recommended for ages 13 and older
Cosmic Skate Night: black lights, lasers and that huge glitter ball
Fire Water Ice Festival: ice skating, swimming, food trucks and fireworks
Trick-or-Treat Street: candy and carnival booths for the kids
Holiday Festival: Santa arrives riding on his … Zamboni
Being a spectator more your speed? The Utah Olympic Oval hosts competitions such as the International Skating Union Short Track World Cup and U.S. Speed Skating World Championships.
When the world anxiously debates who should host the Olympics, you don’t need to worry about it. You already know where the best ice skating events are: right at your doorstep. Well, about 15 minutes southwest of Salt Lake City, anyway. Find the Olympic Oval at 5662 S Cougar Lane in Kearns.