Hundreds of skaters took to the ice Sunday, December 4, in Lake Placid in celebration of World Ice Skating Day (WISD). As part of a new annual global festival, the New York Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) hosted a variety of activities at its Olympic Center throughout the day and into the evening, allowing professionals, coaches, amateurs, and beginners of all ages and all skating sports to come together in a unifying series of events to learn new skills, practice, share passions, and enjoy their sports.
The day kicked off at 7:00 am with youth athletes playing hockey in the CAN/AM tournament on all three indoor Olympic Center rinks – the 1932 Jack Shea Arena, the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, and the USA Rink.
From 10:00 am to Noon, long track speedskaters were welcomed to the historic James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval, home to Eric Heiden’s legendary five Olympic Gold Medal wins in 1980. Of course, the Oval was also the site of the 1932 Olympic Speedskating competition as well and the home training ground of the first-ever Winter Olympic Gold Medalist, Charles Jewtraw. The oval also hosted a second speedskating event later in the day from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.
The Oval then offered public skating sessions open to everyone from Noon to 3:00 pm and again from 7:00 to 9:00 pm in the 1932 Jack Shea Arena.
The Skating Club of Lake Placid then provided a free Learn-To-Skate program from 4:30 to 5:00 pm in the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, home to the most iconic moment in sports in the 20th century, the Miracle on Ice win by the 1980 U.S. Men’s Hockey Team.
The highlight of the day for many was a special evening performance titled the Polar Express Ice-Skating Show, held in the 1932 Jack Shea Arena where Sonja Henie won the second of her three Olympic Gold Medals and where two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Dick Button perfected the double axe, triple loop, and flying camel with coach Gustav Lussi. Created by two local high school athletes, Kiera Levitt and Abigail Gavin, as a senior community fundraising project, the performance was offered free to spectators with a gift donation. As part of their project, the two student skaters and creators earmarked the proceeds and gift donations to support the North Elba Christmas Fund to help serve families in need during the Holiday season.
ORDA created this local World Ice Skating Day celebration to coordinate with the International Skating Union’s (ISU) effort to launch this first annual global celebration. The ISU’s stated purpose of the event was to reunite ice skating professionals, amateurs, and beginners to break social, economic, and cultural boundaries and, ultimately, to encourage greater inclusion, youth involvement, and future development of all ice skating disciplines. The ISU project seeks to make ice skating sports accessible to everyone in a fun and safe way by creating memorable experiences for families and opportunities to share the enjoyment of ice-skating sports.