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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor

Skate under Half Dome

While winter in the central valley lacks the frigid temperatures to produce snow, many families trek their way to spend vacations in the blanket-covered Sierra Nevadas.

The snow-covered fields create possibilities for a variety of snow games or animal watching for those interested in catching a glimpse at a bobcat or coyote.

A more uncommonly known activity available at Yosemite National Park is an outdoor ice-skating rink. While finding the rink may pose a challenge for those without a map, the breath-taking view of Half Dome, rising above the trees, makes the trip worth the trouble.

?This is our first time on vacation to Yosemite,? Michael Perez, 43, said. ?We were surprised at the amount of people skating here, but yet it still didn’t feel crowded. We plan to come again next year.?

Perez and his family (Joan, 40, Ben, 13, and Michaela, 10) drove to Yosemite from Covina, CA, to vacation in Yosemite for a week in January.

Other activities that the Perez family participated in included cross-country skiing at Badger Pass, visiting the Ansel Adams gallery in the village mall, and attending an amphitheater presentation on John Muir.

“In past vacations, we’ve skated at New York City’s Rockefeller Center,” Perez said. “While both paces are very neat, the view of Half Dome and Glacier Point are more spectacular.”

Curry Village lies 86.6 miles?about 1 hour 57 minutes by car?from Woodward Park (Fresno, CA) on Route 41. While winter roads are usually kept open, chains may be required to reach the park.

The ice-rink poses not only as an exhilarating experience for those skilled at skating, but the above ground fire pit next to the rink, gives non-skaters who enjoy watching their families skate a warm seat.

Aside from the $20 per car entrance fee, the rink charges $8 per adult and a skate rental fee of $3. A bargain compared to the $14 session fee plus the $8 skate rental charge at Rockefeller Center. While many may find the price a little steep, rink manager Mike Poisson views the expense worth the experience.

“We are one of the few outdoor rinks in California and in my opinion, one of the nicest,” Poisson said. “For many families I’ve talked to, coming to Yosemite is a yearly vacation tradition. The scenery and skating out in the open is also an attraction.”

Poisson has worked full time at the rink for 7 seasons overseeing the rink, operating the Zamboni, snow removal, and making sure everything is running smoothly.

“I love ice-skating for my job, and with other people as well,” Poisson said. “Plus not many people get to skate for their jobs. I’m also a big hockey fan so skating goes with that love.”

Poisson and some of the staff members hold scrimmages two times a week on Tuesday and Friday evenings, as well as practices on Thursdays. In between skating sessions, the staffers organize pick-up games in which tourists are welcome to join as well.

While the ice-rink employees offer some assistance to eager young hockey stars, the Fresno Falcons’ first trip to the rink presented the boys a chance to practice with a professional team.

“The Falcons were the first professional hockey team to ever visit the rink.” Poisson said. “They came on Monday, Jan. 14 and gave a hockey demonstration to the kids. We make pick-up hockey available to those who come and play on Thursday nights between the 3:30 P.M.- 6 P.M. session and 7 P.M.- 9:30 P.M. session.”

Between each time slot the ice is resurfaced with the Zamboni. After that the rink is divided in half and often there are some adults who come out and offer kids hockey tips.

When not spending time working at the rink, Poisson enjoys participating in other activities the park offers.

“On my days off, if the weather permits, I enjoy snow boarding or going cross-country skiing at Badger Pass,” Poisson said. “I also love to go to hockey games, but I have not been able to go to any this year yet. My family lives in San Jose, and my cousin has season tickets for my favorite team, the (San Jose) Sharks. I hope to go to my usual one or two games yet this year.”

If planning an overnight trip to the park, Yosemite offers a variety of year-round lodging options.

However, with all the recent storms in the Valley, before attempting a trip to the park, the road to Yosemite may require snow chains. Before leaving Fresno, call Highway 41 road information: 1.209.372.0200.

For more information on Curry Park’s outdoor ice rink call 1.866.875.8456.

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    Lorenzo HydeJan 16, 2010 at 6:48 am

    Go Tim!