6 sports to try at the Utah Olympic Oval – and you don’t have to be an Olympian to play

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Kearns • The Utah Olympic Oval has been a part of Phillip Canick’s life since 2012.

He played hockey in two of the oval leagues and now his 6 year old son, Cooper, is in his Learn to skate program.

The two make the trip from Cottonwood Heights to Kearns three times a week, year round.

“The ice cream is always excellent. The facilities, to be as old as they are, you wouldn’t know, ”he said. “It’s just a great place to be.

However, what makes Canick return to the site is the community it creates. “Lots of great lifelong friends I’ve made playing here.”

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Cassie Gutierrez, Skating Learning Instructor, teaches a class of kids how to perform a controlled fall on ice, November 16, 2021. Figure skating is just one of many sports to discover at the Utah Olympics. Oval in Kearns.

The Utah Olympic Oval – dubbed “the fastest ice on Earth,” at an altitude of over 4,500 feet – was built for the 2002 Winter Games. Flags from all over the world hang from the rinks and the athletics track, and the five Olympic rings remain ubiquitous images around the installation.

The space continues to host world-class races and remains a meeting point for people from across the valley to enjoy sports on and off the ice.

On any given day or night, the five-acre site can be filled with people young and old alike running on an indoor track, skating on an ice rink, playing hockey on a separate ice, or gliding, sliding and tripping on the 400. – oval speed skating meter.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) A young competitive speed skater runs around the track on November 16, 2021. Speed ​​skating is just one of many sports to be discovered at the Olympic Oval of the Utah in Kearns.

“It’s a great ice cream,” said Carolyn Krambule, who is a regular at public skating sessions. “We work with a lot of coaches, and they are all fantastic.”

Krabule’s family goes to the resort’s ice rinks at least four times a week. Her husband Dean plays hockey and her daughter Leia participates in the Learn to Skate program.

“It’s a great place to go, find something to do,” Kraambule said, before being interrupted by her daughter. “Other than looking at screens and playing video games. “

For some, ice sports are pure entertainment. For others, these activities and the discipline they require have a deeper meaning.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) LeeAnn Colgan is stabilized by the hand of her speed skating instructor Olympian Derek Parra on November 16, 2021. Speed ​​skating is just one of many sports to check out at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns.

Growing up in San Bernardino, California, Derek Parra found meaning in staying active.

“I came from Southern California with little around me to give a child,” Parra said, “mostly to get out of the bad neighborhood I grew up in.”

When he started speed skating the doors started to open and fame came. He won gold and silver medals at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Parra now works as the oval’s coach and athletic director.

“We are a beacon of the community,” he said. “I can only imagine what it would be like if I were a young child, in this community with this amazing setup in my backyard. “

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Amie Miyagi, Director of Learn to Skate, teaches a class of youth on November 16, 2021. Figure skating is just one of many sports to be discovered at the Olympic Oval in Utah in Kearns.

The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation offers scholarships to provide access to programs for those who cannot afford it.

Although the oval attracts many regulars, it is open to everyone from beginners to winter sports veterans. Like the theme of the 2002 Winter Games, it welcomes the world.

Here are six fun things to do there:

Skating

From August to March there are public skate sessions on the 400-meter oval. There are also skate lessons for different ages and abilities. Toddlers can start as early as 3 years old.

Hockey

There are leagues for young people, both men and women. The Oval offers hockey skills lessons and a recommended hockey learning program for ages 4 to 12. Participants learn intensive skating, stick handling, passing and shooting.

Functioning

A 442-meter indoor track with four lanes surrounds the oval. There is also an eight-lane, 110-meter sprint zone. High school and college athletes spruce up these tracks during the colder months.

Curling

Classes are available for beginners. Students use the same stones that slipped on the ice in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Curling leagues are open to learners and experienced players.

Before the pandemic, the oval hosted cosmic curling at night, with fluorescent “houses”, laser lights and a disco ball.

Speed ​​skating

Introductory courses are offered for short and long track speed skating. A masters camp for competitive skaters over 30 is on hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Figure skating

The Oval offers private figure skating lessons for all skill levels, as well as freestyle sessions where skaters can play their music and practice their routines and competitive synchronized skating teams.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) A young hockey player is reluctantly helped by a teammate during practice after being knocked down by a teammate at the Utah Olympic Oval on November 16, 2021. Hockey n is just one of many other sports to discover at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns.

Parra recommends curling for people who want to avoid putting on skates

Not only is it fun on the oval, but it’s also a safe place, Parra said. “And I know from growing up in a roller rink how that changed the direction of my life.”

Alixel Cabrera is a Report for America body member and writes on the status of communities on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley for the Salt Lake Tribune. Your matching donation to our RFA grant helps her continue to write stories like this; please consider making a tax deductible donation of any amount today by clicking here.


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