Cold snap

With years of relentless training, you, too, can skate like Michelle Kwan. Not me, though.

Though I’ve always admired figure skaters, I’m definitely not one. I’m not a decent ice skater at all, though I still like to go to an ice rink and pretend I look like Michelle Kwan instead of an unbalanced newbie. The occasional cold fall and the ice shavings on my ass don’t make it any easier to pretend, but the atmosphere can at least make the experience more enjoyable.

I wanted a second opinion on where to ice skate this winter, so I sought out Fanny Horn, a figure skater practitioner and instructor in the Reno/Tahoe area. She told me her favorite place to skate is the ice rink at high camp at Squaw Valley. She is an experienced figure skater who learned her sport as a child in her native France.

“The view at Squaw is just incredible,” she says. “And it’s one of the only open-air ice rinks around. They also maintain a very high quality of ice.”

I can attest to the quality of ice. I notice I don’t fall as much at High Camp as I do at other ice rinks that feel like over-used carving boards under my skates. I also have to say the ride up the mountain in the gondola is worth your admission price.

Horn says the South Lake Tahoe rink is available for year-round, on-the-ice fun for skaters or hockey players. Be warned, however: It can be difficult to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

“The sign for it is like this big, though,” she says, gesturing to an 11-inch-by-14-inch painting that hangs on the wall in her living room. “It can be difficult to find; plus, it’s indoors. I think it’s much nicer to skate when you’re outside.

There is just something about the cold air against your face and that steaming cup of hot cider or chocolate afterward that reeks of seasonal tradition. The downtown Reno skating rink will be open this year as well, across the street from Reno City Hall. While I do enjoy the views from High Camp, there is something about an outdoor rink in downtown Reno that just feels like home to me.