As any parent knows, shopping for sporting gear is a relaxing experience that always ends with a toasty mug of hot cocoa enjoyed in front of a cozy fireplace. At least, it does at WNY Skater's Paradise. Kids and adults shop for new and used skates and skate wear from such brands as Del Arbour, Chloe Noel, and Mondor while sipping complimentary beverages such as sodas, flavored coffees, and hot tea. While guests curl up on leather couches to watch a movie by the shop's fireplace, expert skate sharpeners better blades with a custom-sharpening process that begins with a multipoint inspection and includes multiple measurements to ensure each edge is sharpened to suit the skater's size, skating style, and penchant for slicing steak with their feet. Other custom services include crystal application for skating dresses and embroidering services, which emblazon gear with each future gold medalist's name.
When water freezes it not only expands, it makes for great grace and sport. At Mitchell Skating Center, experienced coaches take advantage of that fact to lead figure-skating and hockey classes for everyone aged 4 to adult. Those 30-minute lessons ensure individualized attention and cater to all skill levels. During classes they teach basic skills and even have walkers so beginners' wobbly legs won't send them tumbling too often. Private lessons are available as well, and, when ready, skaters can join teams to experience the icy thrill of competition.
An all-in-one recreation facility, Skateland Family Fun Center entertains families for hours with rounds of 18-hole outdoor mini golf, laps around the wooden roller rink, and futuristic laser-tag battles. Kids can challenge parents for a high score in the arcade or perfect their air-running form as they ricochet off the walls of giant bounce houses. Adults and kids frequent the rink for hockey leagues and skating lessons, as well.
Inspired by their three children, Lisa and Andy Curwin decided to create a youth center that would offer kids entertainment and education under the same roof. An elevated climbing structure dominates the multihued, easy-to-monitor space that eventually sprang from the Curwins' collective imagination. All its slides lead to the center of the building, allowing parents to keep an eye on multiple children while sitting at brightly colored tables and getting pinkies in shape for upcoming tea parties. The room is packed with plenty of other play-ready games and equipment—bounce houses where youngsters can burn off energy and break through the space-time continuum; skee-ball and basketball stations that boost hand-eye coordination and churn out redeemable prize tickets; and skate and tricycle rinks where tykes can establish new recess allegiances. Kango reinforces its play center with a full-service academy that provides programs for young children from infants to kindergartners and ensures visitors stay properly fueled and hydrated by stocking a snack bar with burgers, fries, fruit, and sweets.
The Sports Centre at MCC ushers in winter's chill year-round with skating lessons and open-skate times on four NHL-sized, indoor ice rinks. The open-skate calendar welcomes members of the public onto the facility's slick surfaces to practice skating basics or advanced zamboni hot-wiring. Friends and families can swirl around the glossy circumference for up to two hours of glacial merriment, practicing crosschecks on unruly air along the plexiglass walls or venturing into the center rink for inside axels. The skate rental area carries limited sizes and may not be able to accommodate especially large or small feet, or feet belonging to aquatic mammals.
Captained by its accomplished namesake, Sonya's Skating School's team of NCCP-certified coaches ingrains ice-trekking pupils with proper skating technique while enhancing their strength, speed, and agility through individual correction. One-hour sessions imbue apprentices with boot and blade awareness, crossover control, and longer strides through drills performed by foremost NHL players and zambonis training for marathons. Recent revisions to the school's regimen include the addition of pucks and sticks to some skating programs, and cardiovascular exercises choreographed to music, all intended to improve the skills of hockey hopefuls. Sonya's Skating School does not teach beginner blade-wearers how to skate, so participants must be able to glide forward, backward, and across ice sculptures of juggling polar bears before arrival. Customers should consult the school's schedule for class times.