Time to Shine Up the Old BladesA long-necked dancer glides over the ice, her sheer lace costume fluttering in the breeze. The elegance and agility of the movements of the figure ice skater are captivating. First winding back like a spring, she leaps forward into the air in a climactic triple axel. The audience holds its breath, watching and waiting for the tantalizing moment when she lands in perfection.
Every winter, enthusiastic fans of ice skating return to the rink in search of the romance of the ice promised to them in sugary movies and glittering performances. Think Ryan O'Neil and Ali McGraw in Eric Segal's "Love Story" or Richard Gere and Winona Ryder in "Autumn in New York." The less accomplished of us roam around the oval rink only to slip, fall and rush to the rail. But even off-screen, some people seem to fall in love on the ice.
On its slippery surface, skaters are forever children. Living in the moment, they go around and round, speed hand-in-hand, race against each other, skip, spin and fall, reaching out for the support of a friend.
The ice skating rink is indeed a place for the beautiful and innocent, perhaps a safe haven for beleaguered and troubled souls.
Children Park Skate Rink
Monday -- Sunday, 9 a.m. -- 6 p.m.
The family-friendly Children Park offers winter activities. An outdoor ice rink bustling with children is nestled within the park. "Families can participate in winter recreation while indulging in a backdrop of open nature," said a spokesperson for the park.
To keep the entire family entertained, the park also offers a puppet theater, roller skating facilities, tennis courts and plenty of restaurants.
Admission to the ice rink is 3,200 won for youth and 3,700 won for adults. Ice skate rentals are 2,500 won. Lessons are available, with free ones on Sundays.
A swimming pool during warmer weather, the rink opened November 11 and is slated to shut down February 11.
Grand Hyatt Seoul
Monday -- Thursday, 12 p.m. -- 10 p.m.; Friday -- Sunday and holidays, 10 a.m. -- 10 p.m.
The Olympus pool at the Grand Hyatt Seoul hotel is transformed into a winter wonderland every December. The 910-square-meter pool is frozen over to create an ice skating rink, set to open December 1. Situated outdoors with a view of the Han River during the day and the Seoul city lights at night, the ice rink has an exclusive atmosphere that draws a crowd of "yuppies," a term for young professionals.
In the past, the ice rink has been a stage for international ice skating shows such as the Kiev Russian Ice Ballet and national ice skating stars such as Nam Nari. While shows have not been confirmed for this year, several festivities are planned revolving around the holiday season. The rink will be decorated with ice carvings and bright holiday ornaments for December 24, 25 and 31 and January 1. Special events on those days include ice skating performances, buffets and games.
The rink can also be booked for winter activities such as curling, ice shuffle board and broom hockey.
Rentals are free on the opening day. Otherwise ice skate rental is 10,000 won for the general public and 7,000 won for Club Olympus members. Admission is 15,000 won for the public, 10,000 won for club members.
Lotte World Ice Rink
Monday -- Sunday, 10:30 a.m. -- 10:30 p.m.
The energy level at Lotte World Ice Rink is high. Encircled by the shopping mall dining area and positioned right in the middle of a theme park a level above, the indoor ice rink stays open year-round.
Ice shows and laser shows are presented throughout the year for extra entertainment.
The rink has zones for beginners and experienced skaters so that people can enjoy skating at their own speed. Besides those looking for a leisurely time, young aspiring skaters can be found taking lessons at this ice rink.
Admission is 3,700 won for youth, 4,700 won for adults. Rentals cost 3,100 won. Lesson registration begins on the 20th of every month on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Mokdong Ice Rink
Monday -- Sunday, 6 a.m. -- 7 p.m.
An elaborate skating rink with stadium seating for 5,000 people, Mokdong Ice Rink draws a diverse crowd of athletes-in-training, spectators for ice shows and competitions and those looking for a winter pastime.
Originally built by the government with the initiative to develop Korean winter sports, figure skaters, speed skaters and ice hockey athletes can be found training at the indoor ice rink. The rink also hosts the National Winter Sports Competition and a variety of ice shows.
Adult admission is 3,500 won. Middle and high school student admission is 3,000 won. Children admission is 2,500 won. Rentals are 3,000 won. Lessons are also available.
Taeleung International Ice Rink
Monday -- Sunday, 10 a.m. -- 7 p.m.
For those who want to rub elbows with serious ice skaters, especially speed skaters, Taeleung International Ice Rink is the place to practice. From December 9 to 10, this rink is scheduled to host the first round of the upcoming World Cup. Last February, the rink was the site of the World Sprint Speed Skating Championship.
From 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., the rink is open to registered members and training athletes only.
Admission is 3,000 won for youth, 3,500 won for adults.
by Joe Yong-hee