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A Skating Pro’s 5-Step Guide to Not Looking Like a Beginner at the RiverRink this Year

Photo credit: Getty Images/lolostock

Photo credit: Getty Images/lolostock

The winter chill is fast approaching, and with it, exciting cold weather activities to keep even the most pessimistic Scrooge entertained. If you’re ready to start penciling in all the cheer your planner can contain this holiday season, you’ll be psyched to hear the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest will open on November 25.

Ready to lace up your skates and own the ice? Ice-skating is a fierce (and fun) way to squeeze in a workout between sips of hot chocolate. This step-by-step guide, courtesy of Julie Cardinale, skating director at the University of Pennsylvania 1923 Rink and Wissahickon Skating Club, should help assist even the wobbliest of beginners rule the rink:

Dress for the occasion

It’s no secret you need to bundle up when temperatures dip, but if you plan on hitting the ice there’s a few piece of clothing that can hold back your skating skills. Opt for thick leggings or sweatpants instead of jeans so you have room to stretch (and cushion for the occasional fall).

Thick socks seem like a good idea but can make it tough to find a pair of skates that fit appropriately. Go for a more streamlined wool sock that reaches about mid-calf (at least above the top of your skates) and fits your foot closely while still keeping your toes warm.

Find your perfect fit

The mission seems simple enough: Ask for a pair of skates in your shoe size. But finding a perfect fit in rental shoes can feel more arbitrary than your usual shoes since they’re not formed to your foot’s shape. Search for skates that feel snug on your foot but not so tight it’s uncomfortable on your big toe. Start with a pair of skates in your regular shoe size, and then adjust a half-size smaller or bigger as needed.

Lace like a pro

Once you find a pair of skates that fit snug to your feet, how you lace them is equally as important for making sure you have a sturdy base. Loosen the laces so you can easily slip your foot all the way into your skates. Then, tighten each lace from the toe to your ankle, pulling each securely, but not so tight you’re cutting off circulation. Lace your hooks in a crisscross and pull snug at the end before tying the ends and making a double knot. If you have a lot of excess lace, tuck the ends inside the tops of your boots to keep them from catching on the blade or coming loose.

Find a focal point

You’re dressed and ready for the ice—now what? Before pushing out on the ice, find a focal point across the rink to set your eyes on and help steady your balance. Keeping your eyes up will help keep your body strong, centered and able to adjust to the sensation of gliding on ice.

Take it slow

Your first time on the ice work on finding and perfecting your balance before you increase your speed. Keep a slight bend in your knees, your chest slightly forward and arms out in a “T” shape for balance. Grabbing the wall for support will actually throw your natural balance off and cause congestion on the outside of the rink. Practicing your stop—and doing it without running into the wall—is equally important as going forward. Try the “Snowplow” stop: Bend your knees inward, pushing your heels out. This forms a “V” or snowplow-like shape with your toes and the blade to tilt slightly on the ice in a way that slows your momentum to a gradual stop.

The Blue Cross RiverRink is open seven days a week from November 25 to March 5, plus all Independence cardholders get free skating admission, so you’ll have plenty of time to perfect your skills this season. Just leave those triple axels to the Olympians for now…

For more information on how Independence Blue Cross is there to help you stay healthy this holiday season click here.