You know how we ought to cap off this stunning 70-degree November day? I thought last night.
With ice skating!
Centennial Olympic Park’s outdoor skating season opened on Saturday, and we headed downtown for a mild, anachronism-filled evening on ice. There was a mean game of tag going on the grass near the ice. I strongly considered locking our bikes to the oversized holiday light deer decorations. At the entryway, rink operators sold tickets, skate rentals and socks for the folks who arrived in sandals.
I hadn’t been skating since I was 17, but was prepared by Jamila, my super-skating colleague, who warned me to keep my arms out, bend my knees and avoid looking down.
“If you can walk you can skate,” she told me.
“And if I fall?”
“We also say that if you don’t fall, you can’t skate.”
Right. Well, I believe I’ve found the gray area between those pronouncements. I can walk, but there’s a reason I took ballet for all of six weeks in my youth. (Mom’s words: “There was no hope.”) With that history of klutziness, I’m pretty good at avoiding falls now.
The rink was busy when we arrived around 8 p.m., with maybe 125 people making big, slow circles around the ice. There was a shifting layer of snow on top, and an entire corner blocked off where ice was melted in a cube-like fashion. My skates look as well-kept as one expects $2 rental skates to be, and off we went.
Step. Step. Stop. Step. Stop. Longer step. Step. Stop. Loooonger step, long step. Stop. Rail.
Jamila warns against clinging to the rail, and I can see why: it’s where people like me hang out. If anything is going to hurt you on that rink, it won’t be the thin ice or the community skates — it’s the rail-flowers.
A handful of people spun and sailed across the ice, but almost everybody there seemed to be there for a relaxed, fun time.
Fun, though, that doesn’t necessarily have a lot to do with skating. Here’s what people seemed to be putting their energy into on Saturday:
My $7 ticket paid for 90 minute of skating, but there was no way I could’ve stayed out there for an hour and a half. After maybe 45 minutes, I unhooked the plastic skate buckles and zipped on my cheap boots, which, after the skates, offered a new sensation of walking on satin pillows with arch support.
I did not fall, and I’ll agree with Jamila: I can not skate. But I love this city for slipping around on frozen water while wearing shorts.
Want to go? Ice skating at Centennial Olympic Park is open daily through Jan. 31. Hours vary. $7 for 90 minutes of skating, $2 for skate rental. Discounts available. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Avenue West N.W., Atlanta. 404-222-7275, www.centennialpark.com.
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