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July 28, 2014

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Appalachian State University student Rachel Todd is working this winter as an instructor at Appalachian Ski Mountain’s outdoor skating rink. The rink is open seven days a week through March 17. Photo by Jeff Eason

Originally published: 2013-02-28 17:18:20
Last modified: 2013-02-28 17:18:20

App Ski Mountain’s outdoor rink to stay open until March 17

It seems as if skiing and snowboarding change every year. Clothing styles, equipment, tricks and terrain hardware are constantly evolving in these winter sports.

Not so with ice skating. Whether you prefer figure skates or hockey skates, there is a timeless magic to lacing them up and gliding out onto the ice rink.

“I’ve been skating since I was 3 years old,” said Rachel Todd, an ice skating instructor at Appalachian Ski Mountain’s outdoor skating rink. “My parents would drive me to Spruce Pine until that skating rink closed, then they would drive me to Asheville until that skating rink closed. Then they had to drive me to Greensboro.”

These days, Todd does the majority of her skating at Appalachian Ski Mountain, teaching skaters the basics of staying on their feet, or advanced tricks, such as spinning and jumping.

“This ice skating rink was originally in a mall in South Carolina,” said Grady Moretz, owner and founder of Appalachian Ski Mountain. “My son, Brad, had it moved here. We’re the only outdoor skating rink in the area with an overhead tarp and the only one with a Zamboni (ice resurfacer). It’s refrigerated, so we can be skating when we can’t be skiing. The shade cloth makes it possible to skate later in the year. We found out about that at a skating rink in Sun Valley, Idaho. It makes a big difference.”

According to Moretz, Appalachian Ski Mountain plans to keep its outdoor skating rink open until Sunday, March 17.

Last Saturday’s early skating session saw skaters of all levels hitting the ice at the outdoor skating rink. Beginners used special skating aids, curved bars that they could hold onto while they learned to skate. The bars are the skating equivalent of training wheels on a bicycle.

The more advanced skaters were skating backwards, spinning and jumping in the rink.

“We use the Zamboni three times a day, so the ice is usually in excellent condition,” said skating rink manager Jay Niewisch, now in his fifth season at Appalachian Ski Mountain.

The outdoor skating rink also features music coming out of loudspeakers, hockey and figure skate rentals and restrooms.

Appalachian Ski Mountain’s outdoor skating rink is open seven days a week, with sessions from noon to 2 p.m., 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Sessions are $14 each with figure skate rentals, and $17 each with hockey skate rentals.

For more information, call Appalachian Ski Mountain at (828) 295-7828.
For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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