Beating the heat; Figure skaters at the Dearborn Ice Skating Center keep cool on summer ice

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Photo by Sue Suchyta
Coach Stacy Holland (left) works with Jenna Haidar, 5, of Dearborn Heights, and Dearborn residents Emma Ritchie, 11, and Marwa Abdel-Hak, 8, July 1 during a low power stroking class at the Dearborn Ice Skating Center.

By SUE SUCHYTA
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Despite the heat on the street, keeping cool is a breeze this summer for hockey players and figure skaters at the Dearborn Ice Skating Center.

The DISC, 14900 Ford Road, has two arenas chilled to 45 degrees, with classes held year-round for beginning to advanced ice skaters.

Open skating is year round, with $3 skate rental, and a $5 fee for residents, $6 for non-residents, and $1 for seniors and children under 5 years old for a 90-minute session.

For more information, call 313 943-4098 or go to cityofdearborn.org/city-departments/recreation/disc.

Facility supervisor Holly Malewski said the DISC is a great place to beat the heat and skate with friends, learn a new activity, and be in a controlled climate year round.

“They can make an entire day of it,” Malewski said. “We have classes that start in the morning, and we also have sessions where they can just practice on their own.”

She said skaters are on ice as early as 6 a.m. in the summer, with youth classes lasting until 3 p.m. Then the Crystallettes synchronized skating teams practice from 3 to 7 p.m., with hockey games sometimes running until midnight, which she said is unheard of in the summer for most ice arenas.

Both arenas are National Hockey League regulation-sized surfaces, 80 feet wide by 200 feet in length.

Malewski recommends that parents of children interested in trying skating for the first time come in, and rent skates for $3, wear protective gear like a helmet, dress warmly and come to a public open-skating session.

“We have walkers that will help them skate along the ice if they have never skated before,” she said. “I would also say, like any sport, if it is their first time and they are not proficient, protective gear would be recommended.”

She stressed the importance of dressing warmly.

“No matter if it is 100 degrees outside, it is still going to be 45 degrees in here,” Malewski said.

She said they have classes at the DISC year-round, including bridging classes that prepare children to join a hockey team or skate competitively.

Alex Darwish, 23, of Dearborn, starting skating at the DISC when she was 5, joined the Crystallettes when she was 8, and continues to skate on the adult team. Competitions with the synchronized teams have taken her around the world.

She said the DISC is a great place to be with your skating friends in the summer, with fitness classes held upstairs.

“It’s fun to play around with your friends out there and not always be serious,” Darwish said. “So it is definitely a mixture of all the social activities, the performing arts and the physical activity, too, so it is nice.”

She recommends group classes and public skating for beginning skaters who want to get out of the summer heat.

“Definitely just come on into the rink and come out for skating because it is awesome,” Darwish said.

Skating coach and teacher Cathy Gontarski said when you enter the rink you are guaranteed “a nice chilly atmosphere.”

“It’s a lot of fun, and you can get exercise where you don’t get overheated,” Gontarski said. “Sometimes in the summertime the kids get waterlogged – they are too much in the pool in the sun. Here you do not have the water. You have frozen ice, and there is no way that they will get sun poisoning because you are not outside underneath the sun.”

She said the DISC is a nice place to come to get cool.

“You don’t have to pay for the air conditioning – you just pay for the ice (time),” Gontarski said. “(Summer) is a nice time to come because it is not really busy.”

Lunchtime figure skater Anthony Prozzi, who designs automotive interiors for Ford Motor Co., began figure skating as an adult. He works with Gontarski, who helped him win the men’s Midwestern Championship in a past year.

He encourages adults to try skating for the fun of it.

“It is so much fun,” Prozzi said. “It is all about having fun. It makes you feel like a kid again. Who does not want that sort of fearless abandon? When I see kids skate, they are afraid of nothing, and as we grow older, there are all these worries. And skating, at least for me, takes that away.”

Tina deHaan of Garden City, whose daughter Emily, 13, skates, said she enjoys the rink’s cold temperatures while she watches her daughter skate.

Dareen Basma, 8, of Dearborn, who skates year round, said she enjoys the coolness of the ice rink in the summertime.

She said she also likes the speed she experiences when figure skating, which she describes as fun.

Her sister Doaa Basma, 11, is on the juvenile Crystallettes team. She said figure skating is one of her favorite activities.

“It lets me cool down, and it is just fun to ice skate,” she said. “I love it. It feels like if I don’t ice skate, I am missing a part of my life.”

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