On thin ice: Problems delay Canal Park and Lake Shaw skating rinks

December 10, 2013
By this time last winter, the rink in Canal Park, above, was hosting skating lessons. (Teddy Wolff/For Express)
By this time last winter, the rink in Canal Park, above, was hosting skating lessons. (Teddy Wolff/For Express)

UPDATE (12/10): Lee Gradados has decided to postpone plans for the Lake Shaw Ice Rink until the winter of 2014-15. She wrote in an email that she is, however, hoping to arrange for “some special events for this winter at Old City Farm that focus around the Winter Olympics and community events.” We’ll post more details when they’re available.

 

 

When it comes to ice skating, a few slip-ups are always expected. But two of the District’s outdoor rinks are having a particularly rough year — and it’ll take more than a Zamboni to smooth out the problems.

Wondering why the Canal Park Ice Rink, near the Navy Yard, hasn’t started its second season of skating yet? Back in October, a pipe beneath the rink burst. The accident flooded the refrigeration machinery that creates and maintains a frozen surface, setting back the opening date by at least a month.

“It shouldn’t have happened. And we don’t expect it to happen again,” says park manager Janet Weston, who reports that repairs are almost complete. The rink may be in business as early as this weekend, but the schedule shift has forced some trims to the planned programming. Instead of two sessions of skating lessons, there will be only one. (It starts Jan. 4.)

Marissa Marwell of Rink Management Services, which operates the Canal Park site, says skaters still have plenty to look forward to in the coming months. Besides a skating exhibition to celebrate the opening, there will be regular weekly events, including two-for-one Tuesdays and a live DJ on Friday nights. And a “yoga on ice” class could start soon, Marwell adds.

Those plans sound a lot more solid than what’s happening at the proposed Lake Shaw Ice Rink, which was originally slated to debut earlier this month. Instead, there’s no sign of any skating on the site of the closed Shaw Junior High School.

Community activist Lee Granados, 38, has been spearheading the project. She has a grand vision for a neighborhood gathering spot that’s surrounded by art installations, live band performances and toasting marshmallows.

During the day, she says, teachers from nearby schools could use the ice as an outdoor classroom that’s ideally suited for explaining angles and other mathematical lessons. Come February, Granados would like to broadcast the Olympic Games, so skaters can be inspired by the competition in Sochi, Russia.

The concept has generated considerable online buzz — but not nearly enough money.

Trying to coax funds out of businesses this late in the year is tough, Granados says, because they’ve already committed their 2013 budgets. And without cash, the project is stalled.

In a last-ditch attempt to make the rink a reality this year, she’s considering a campaign through the online fundraising website crowdrise.com. People would pay up front for incentives: $10 for one skate session, $100 for a month of skating, $1,000 for a private event for up to 100 guests. This tactic requires finding an established nonprofit to partner up with the project and manage the funds.

Sounds trickier than a triple axel, but Granados is undeterred: “We’ll keep trying to make it happen — even if it’s after Jan. 1.”

Next year has to be better for skating in D.C.

Open Season

Washingtonians don’t need to wait for anything else to freeze over. The two other outdoor rinks in the city are open for business:
-Washington Harbour (3050 K St. NW, thewashingtonharbour.com/skating) offers skating lessons, parties and events in Georgetown.
-The National Gallery Sculpture Garden rink (Constitution Avenue and Sixth Street NW, nga.gov) offers classes including adult exercise.

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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