Figure skating is my favorite part of the Winter Olympics. I remember as a child watching Katarina Witt glide her way to a gold medal and Scott Hamilton performing his amazing backflip on the ice.
I always wanted to skim across the ice like the Olympic athletes, but there were few dedicated places to ice skate while growing up in rural Nebraska in the 1980s – except for maybe a frozen pond when it got really cold in the winter.
Instead, I spent the winter months wheeling across the city auditorium’s gym floor in my red, white and blue roller skates.
But, today, it’s a different story in Nebraska. Many cities across the state boast both indoor and outdoor ice skating arenas with opportunities for youth hockey, broomball, curling and figure skating.
We carve out at least a few weekends each winter to skate the ice at the Viaero Event Center in Kearney. We’ve also experienced outdoor ice skating at Mahoney State Park near Ashland and the Railyard in Lincoln.
In just the past two years, new large ice arenas have opened in both Lincoln and Omaha giving Nebraska kids and families many opportunities to experience the joys (and pains) of ice skating.
If the Winter Olympics inspire you to lace up your skates, here are some places across Nebraska where you can live out your figure skating dreams (or, maybe just enjoy a few hours of slipping and sliding):
The Viaero Event Center in Kearney is home to the Kearney Storm Hockey team and opens for public skating most weekends from 1-3 p.m. mid-December through April.
The Ice Rink is an outdoor rink in Lincoln’s Railyard and is open for public skating most evenings, Tuesday-Thursday from 5-9 p.m., Fridays, 5 p.m.-Midnight, Saturdays, Noon-Midnight and Sundays, Noon-9 p.m. Enjoy hot chocolate or a delicious meal at the many fun restaurants surrounding The Railyard ice rink.
The John Breslow Ice Hockey Center opened in Lincoln at 433 V Street in December 2015. It has public skate options almost every day of the week and is home to UNL’s men’s and women’s club hockey teams. It has an NHL sized (85 X 200 foot) ice surface that offers fun for the entire family.
The Sidner Ice Arena at the Fremont YMCA opened in 2004 and offers public skate times at various times each week. The Evelyn Sidner youth endowment provides free skating to all Fremont youth ages 14 and younger.
At the Eugene T. Mahoney State Park ice-skating rink near Ashland, skaters can experience the joy of gliding across an outdoor rink. It does offer some protection from the weather with an overhead covering. Winter hours: Monday, Thursday and Friday 4-8 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. The ice skating season generally begins in mid-November, weather permitting.
Omaha Ice Skating Arena’s
Omaha boasts several ice skating rinks:
The Moylan Iceplex at 12550 West Maple Road, opened in November 1995 and is the only Olympic-sized rink in the state and home to the Omaha Hockey Club. It offers extended hours of skate time each week and is typically open seven days a week.
The Motto McLean Ice Arena, located at 5015 South 45th St., is also an indoor ice arena that is open year round. A family of four can skate for just $10 during specially designated family skate times, usually on Sundays. This ice arena is operated by Omaha Parks & Recreation.
Grover Ice, located right off I-80 at 60th & Grover streets, is Omaha’s newest privately-owned ice rink and home to the Omaha Broomball Club. Public skate times are offered throughout the week. The arena also offers fully-furnished party rooms with many food options and a beverage bar.
The University of Nebraska Medical Center Ice Rink is located between 42nd and 40th streets and Dewey and Emile Streets. The rink is open from late November to early February. It is closed for the 2017-18 season.
NRG Energy Ice Rink is a 60 x 120 foot artificially chilled outdoor rink that moved to its new location at 10th and Capitol this year. It will close for the 2018 season on Feb. 14.
The Rink on Farnam at Midtown Crossing is another outdoor rink. The 60 x 80-foot synthetic ice rink is open Thursdays through Sundays until Feb. 25.
Ralston Arena in Ralston is home to the Omaha Lancers. You can bring a group of four people and skate for only $20. There are limited public skate times. Please check the schedule at online.