Nobody in Santa Monica has a snow-covered slope in their backyard to practice slalom runs. Some think they can just march up a mountain and dominate a black diamond on courage and instinct alone. Instead, they wind up face first in snow, wishing they’d practiced.
In order to prepare skiers and snowboarders for the real deal, and to spare them from slushy, frostbitten shame, two-time world ski champion Bob Salemo devised his innovative Virtual Snow training system. In a controlled indoor environment far away from menacing ski lifts and snowballs tossed by mountain goats, winter-sports enthusiasts perfect their maneuvers in fun training drills led by skilled instructors and the clever teachings of Salemo himself. The faux ski-course simulator, which resembles a large conveyor belt, mimics the smooth surface and wily turns of a downhill slope as its snowy surface rolls beneath the feet of students on skis or snowboards. Future Picabo Streets or Shawn Whites not only expand their abilities to new levels, but they can also practice tricks without bailing out and shake off any bad habits they learned from sleet gangs.
IceTown helps kids and adults become nimble on their blades with open-skate hours every day of the week as well as hockey and figure-skating instruction. Free introductory Hockey Academy and Skating Academy lessons, both open to boys and girls aged 3 and older, teach agility, puck-smashing skills, and how to carve an ice sculpture with a series of precise blade kicks. Adults brush up on hockey skills in clinics separated by gender, and groups can take part in sled hockey or broomball. IceTown also opens its doors to birthday revelers, providing use of its party room, access to open skate, and 30 minutes on its rock wall.
Holiday Skate Center equips roller-skating enthusiasts of all ages with eight-wheeled action during themed skating sessions. Pairs of clean, rink-ready roller skates (a $3 value per pair) propel all ages of wheeled crusaders through Flashback Skate Night ($6 admission), a musical time warp featuring '70s, '80s, and '90s tunes, offered from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. Age-specific skating sessions including Club Skate Night ($7.50 admission), offered on Friday nights for middle- and high-school-age students, and adult evening skate ($6.50 admission), a Wednesday-night event for ages 18 and older, are geared toward older ages and don’t necessarily include daytime activities such as the hokey pokey, the limbo, or naptime. Check out the website for a full schedule of roller-rink events. After ripping around the rink in an exact replication of Ben Franklin's first trip to Paris, hit up the snack bar for complimentary large sodas (a $2 value each) and bags of popcorn (a $1.25 value each) to refuel.
The Rinks offers both inline and ice skating for all ages and all skill levels. The Westminster and Yorba Linda centers boast NHL-size rinks, and Anaheim boasts an Olympic-size rink. In addition, Anaheim's league-certified surface is used as the official training facility of the Anaheim Ducks. Skaters can take to the ice for classes on such blade-top pursuits as hockey, figure skating, public skating, curling, broomball, and more. For the ice-averse, The Rinks has three inline-skating centers in Corona, Huntington Beach, and Irvine which play host to youth and adult roller hockey leagues, skating clinics, public skates, and more. Open-skate sessions give aficionados the chance to take a few laps with friends and family, riding atop their own blades or donning a rental pair from the front desk. On Friday and Saturday nights, rinks morph into icy dance clubs, blasting hit music booming through the speakers and projecting music videos onto a jumbo screen. Birthday packages are also available at both locations.
Skaters glide with style and grace across the sleek surfaces of two hockey rinks at KHS Ice Arena, which also serves as the training ground for the Wildcats Hockey Club. And while the club’s coaches help mold teams of elite hockey players through camps and 3 on 3 competitions, the arena also hosts unstructured stick time for burgeoning hockey stars to work on their dekes and slap shots. In addition, public-skate sessions let visitors enjoy some freestyle skating in a stick-free atmosphere.