Ice-skating lessons at McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

SKATE003The extraordinary outdoor ice-skating venues that offer New Eastsiders a festive way to keep active during the cold winter months are also equipped to help beginners stay upright on the slick, frozen ice. Millennium Park’s McCormick Tribune Ice Rink offers free lessons for hockey and figure skating on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the winter.

Funded by a grant from McDonald’s Active Lifestyles Endowment and managed by the Millennium Park Foundation, the lessons start one hour before the rink opens: 11 a.m. on Friday; 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Po-An Tsai, a student at UIC, has been taking hockey lessons for the past two years. “They teach you to skate more powerfully, to turn and to stop,” he says. “Figure skaters learn to spin.”

Besides hockey and figure skating, beginners can simply use the lessons to increase their confidence.

According to Katy McKinnon, a coach and instructor through Ice Reach, a nonprofit outreach organization dedicated to promoting the participation and involvement in ice sports. One of the first things beginners are taught is how to fall and get up. Once they master those important skills, they can learn to skate.

“First, it’s marching, then pushing, and learning how to glide to pick up speed,” says McKinnon.

Ann Marie Shipstad is the Program Director of Ice Reach.  “We’ve been doing the (free Millennium Park) lessons for about five years now, and we are thrilled to be back every year,” says Shipstad.

Shipstad has a staff of professional instructors who also teach at various indoor ice rinks around the city and offer private lessons. For private or semi-private lessons, contact Shipstad at amshipstad@icereach.com.

The ice-skating lessons program will continue, weather permitting, until March 6. Skating is free and open to the public. Skate rental costs $12.

For hours and more information, visit www.millenniumpark.org.

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