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GET OUT: Unrelenting cold has an upside: ‘Ice Ice Baby’
JACKSON, WYO – I hate to admit it but the long range “Old Farmers Almanac” forecast for western Wyoming’s 2013-14 winter made way back last September is turning out to be way too accurate. Dry and cold it warned. No shit, Sherlock.
Don’t kick yourself for ignoring the gloomy prognostication. It’s not like anyone else has snow this year. Sure, you bought new skis instead of ice skates, but it’s not too late to shift gears and head for a frozen pond somewhere.
Unrelenting cold has an upside. It makes for ice that’s hard and fast. So grab your blades and hit the rinks. Choices abound. Night, day, a pickup game of shinny hockey or a hand-holding date under the stars – Teton County (both of them) has something slick just for you.
The Snow King Sports and Event Center is home to the Jackson Hole Moose hockey team, competing in the Senior A Division of the USA Hockey Association. The Moose play a 22-game home schedule this season on most Friday and Saturday nights. The level of competition is top notch and the games feature live music from a different local band each weekend.
Snow King has undergone numerous improvements since operation of the rink was turned over to Center Management. Whether you’re looking for a figure skating lesson, a pickup game of hockey, or a competitive league suited to your skill level – Snow King has something for everyone and the best ice around.
My favorite outdoor skate spot has got to be the Wilson Rink. I don’t care who you are, you feel the sense of community when you skate there. Even if you didn’t participate in the annual tradition of “the setting up of the boards” (complete with homemade chilli), the sense of pride and ownership at the downtown Wilson oval permeates every skate. Kids, dogs, and even an ex-NHL player can be found on any given Sunday morning or Thursday night.
Another super sheet of ice in the area is the Kotler Ice Arena in Victor. Four-on-four hockey tourneys and a well-groomed ice surface make the quaint little covered rink on the other side of the hill a fine choice on warmer days when other rinks are melting out.
This facility gets better and better every winter. Skaters now enjoy indoor restrooms, skate rentals/pro shop, a locker room and concession stand.
The broomball rink located at the Teton County Fairgrounds is a fun option for families with little tykes. Outside of the busy broomball league schedule of night games, this rink pretty much sits empty and forgotten most of the day. If you’re just learning, maybe this oval is the ice for you and your dog.
Maybe the coolest rink is the Town Square sheet put up by the Grand Teton Skating Academy in association with JH Winter Wonderland. The rink hosts skaters beneath the twinkling lights of downtown Jackson. Hot cocoa, cider, music, and rentals are available.
The scene has an old-town European feel. Skaters glide around a natural-looking ice sheet while shoppers whisk from store to store.
The newly opened Powderhorn Park ice rink is generally open from noon to 8:30 p.m. for family skating.
Frozen lakes and ponds are always another option. Ice fishing on Jackson and Slide lakes has become more and more popular every winter.