Gearing up for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang? We are too, and yes, we've dreamt of winning our place on the medal podium. So, why not have your own moments of Olympic glory? If you already perfected your gymnastics routine after trying out Summer Olympic sports, it’s time to switch over to the snow. Ice-skating rinks within NYC have lessons that lace students in skates, while ski resorts throughout New York State are putting newbies out on tracks or terrains. Try out a Winter Olympic sport at one of these locations, and know that we’ll be rooting for you.
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Winter Olympic sports near NYC
Snowboarding: Hunter Mountain
At this resort two and a half hours north of NYC, skiing and snowboarding sessions are plentiful; there’s also a dedicated beginner’s area with a terrain that’s wide and comfortable. Getting there is a snap: Seven different bus lines leave from pick-up spots throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. Once there, try Hunter’s Peak Discovery Program, which has a structured teaching method for easing newbies in at their own pace while progressing across this three-day package ($139, including lift tickets, rentals and daily group lesson). Or first-time riders can also go for the Beginner Single-Pak ($79) a trifecta of teaching with a Low Mountain lift ticket, group lesson and equipment rental. Then there’s hour-long private lesson packages (at $140) that come with a lift ticket and equipment, or just lessons that can go with private one-on-one lessons ranging from an hour (at $90) to two ($145) to three ($195). Hunter Mountain, 64 Klein Ave, Hunter (5180263-4223, huntermtn.com)
Through its “Adult Learn to Play” program, this sports center in Floyd Bennett Field teaches fundamentals in power skating, stick handling, passing and shooting so budding hockey players can enjoy some fun or serious competitive play on the ice. These classes happen on Sunday evenings; the cost is $300 per person, with a drop-in fee of $40 per class. If you can handle a stick okay on your own, Adult Open Hockey ($22) is a no-hassle program with 80 minutes of ice, locker rooms and shower facilities, just be sure to bring your pucks along. Men and women are welcome.
At this year-round, twin-rink facility, Sky Rink Skating School offers Learn to Skate classes in which adults can sign up for adult classes including Adult Skate Night on Mondays at 7pm ($380 for a 10-week session). Class includes a 20-minute on-ice warm-up and 30 minutes of on-ice group instruction. After class, students receive an additional 30-minutes of practice time. For additional ice time, skaters can attend General Skating sessions up to six days a week for $12 a session, $6 for skate rental and $5 for helmet (if needed). General Skating Sessions are Monday 1:30–5pm, Tuesday and Thursday 3–5pm, Friday 1–3:50pm, Saturday and Sunday 1–3:50pm.
Managed by Curl NYC, the curling program at the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park gives a 90-minute introduction lessons on this sport on Sunday evenings and Wednesday nights now through March 25. Get schooled in the rules of the game, grasp techniques such as how to deliver a stone and “hows” and “whys” of sweeping (what you do to the surface of the ice). You even get some simulated game time on the ice, and all equipment will be provided. You just have one job: Wear a clean pair of sneakers and warm clothing enabling you to bend and stretch with ease. Each session, designed for beginners only, costs $65. Advanced online registration is required.
Speed Skating: World Ice Arena
Around since the early 1960s, the Flushing Meadows Speed Skating Club is pretty open to welcoming new members to its roster. However, it’s best to some basic skating skills down pat (hockey style is a good fit). Feel nervous? Drop in a few times for fundamental sessions; pricing includes skate rental if you’re not officially a club member. As for where to meet? Head to the World Ice Arena in Flushing, where speed skating sessions happen on Monday and Thursday evenings from early October through late March. It’s $28 a session for adults (including skate rental), and your first time is free. World Ice Arena, 13135 Avery Ave, Flushing, Queens (fmssc.com)
Ski Jumping: New York Ski Educational Foundation
This foundation provides ski jumping lessons year-round at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex in Lake Placid, with “Learn to Fly Wednesday” sessions ($20 for a one-day session per week or $450 for the full season). These intro classes begin with a warm-up and stretching routine followed by a proper technique of a ski jump. Then you get started on the hill and take a few landing hill rides. If you and your coach think you’re ready and confident, you move on to what’s known as the K20 jump. Olympic Ski Jumping Complex, 5486 Cascade Rd, Lake Placid (518-946-7001, nysef.org)
Biathlon: Whiteface Lake Placid
This sports combo of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting might sound tricky, but this Adirondacks complex offers an introductive session that makes it easier to grasp. Through their Discover Biathlon program, participants can shoot a 22-caliber rifle at the same biathlon targets used in the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan. Start off the program with a ski lesson or come out to the complex’s range to try their shooting skills. Get treated to an hour-long PSIA ski lesson, an informative video on biathlon and professional instruction at the center’s Olympic Biathlon Range. The program is priced at $55; just to shoot on the range is $22. Whiteface Lake Placid, 2634 Main St., Lake Placid (518-523-4436, whiteface.com)
Bobsled: Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex
Take a bobsled run on the exact same track used by athletes in the 1980 Games in Lake Placid—with a slight adjustment. Instead of starting from the top of the track, your ride takes off at its half-mile mark. Accompanied by a professional driver and with a brakeman at the helm, riders will accelerate into stretches of track nicknamed “Shady,” “Labyrinth” and “The Heart” and up to speeds of about 50 miles per hour. And your memory of this experience comes included with a T-shirt and photo. Cost of the Lake Placid Bobsled Experience is $95 per person; reservations should be made at least 72 hours in advance. Lake Placid Sports Complex, 220 Bobsled Run Rd, Lake Placid (518-523-4436, lakeplacid.com)
Cross Country Skiing: Mohonk Mountain House
Cross country skiing involves using your own manpower to venture along the snow, and this Catskills resort features more than 20 miles of well-maintained ski trails ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced. As for learning how, there are hourly lessons ($30 per person) and individual private lesson by appointment only ($50 per person). Feel confident on your own? Day visitors can purchase a trail pass ($21 per person during the week and $26 per person on weekends and holidays), while overnight guests get them complimentarily. And for your equipment, rentals are at $24 for adults. Mohonk Mountain House, 1000 Mountain Rest Rd, New Paltz (845-256-2101, mohonk.com)
Skeleton: Whiteface Mountain
Think of your childhood sled going into hyper-drive, as the experience of skeleton will have participants laying down on their stomachs and jetting down an icy chute face front. Chill, right? At this resort, you'll be given a brief instruction on how to position yourself on the sled. The ride will go over 30 miles per hour, so try to keep your eyes open. If not, at least you’ll walk away with a photo of yourself posing with your sled. The Lake Placid Skeleton Experience costs $75. Reservations should be made at least 72 hours in advance, and though you can get there via Amtrak and shuttle, it’s honestly easier to drive up in a car like a Chevrolet, which works especially well in wintery road conditions. Whiteface Mountain, 2634 Main St, Lake Placid (518-523-4436, whiteface.com)