As far as winter activities go, there is nothing more classic, more festive, more downright New York than skating at The Rink at Rockefeller Center. Celebrating its 77th year of icy fun, and with over 250,000 visitors each season, the Rink officially opened yesterday with a cast including the Rockettes (on ice!) and Olympic medalist Elvis Stojko, joined by a crowd of eager young athletes gliding and spinning in skirts and sparkles.
But don't worry about outfits or tricks and kicklines on the ice—skaters of all skill levels are cordially invited to participate, and both Stojko and rink manager Carol Olsen gave us some serious pro tips for novices.
"The railing is your friend," Olsen says, advising first-timers to stick to the edges. "And come on a nice day."
Stojko recommends flexible, comfortable clothes and a thin pair of gloves to protect your hands from some inevitable stumbles. Even better, Stojko outlined the physical steps needed to find balance and strength on the ice. "Keep your eyes up! That's number one," he says. "Everyone goes out and looks down first, so what happens is your eyes go down and your head goes forward and your weight starts to go forward. Everyone says bend your knees—I don't, I say bend your ankles. Ankles are everything. Be aware of where you are on the blade. Keep your arms up to give yourself a little bit of balance.... That's how I would start." (And that was Skating 101 brought to you by an Olympic master of the sport!)
Before you lace up though, purchase a skating package—it makes the day in Midtown go that much more smooth, and tickets are now available online. Current deals on sale include the brand new Christmas Spectacular package, the VIP Skate premium pass, the 7am First Skate for early morning exercise and free coffee and pastries, Breakfast with Santa for the kids (and a mimosa for mom and dad), and SkySkate's Top of the Rock up high/down low special. (Think of SkySkate as the surf and turf of holiday adventures.) For the romantic types, there's even an Engagement on Ice package, offering private ice time and Champagne.
Rink manager Olsen, having worked at Rockefeller Center for 26 years, points out one final, imperative piece of advice (besides grabbing a hot chocolate at Cucina and Co.): When you're skating, make sure to gaze upwards. "When you stand at the rink and look up at 30 Rock and to the sky... I always call it Colorado blue," she says. "You can be on the street and see clouds, but when you look up from the rink it's that blue. It's a beautiful sight."
The Rink remains open until March 31, 2014.