Last weekend was a cold one here in the Twin Cities. The high on Saturday was only 0 degrees, and by the time the sun set, temps had dropped to -18 degrees. Factor in the windchill, and friends, it was cold.
While most people tried not to leave their homes on Saturday, I had to work. I work for a university, and our commencement ceremonies were Saturday. Which meant I got to stand in the foyer, dressed in my nicest (but not warmest) attire, handing out programs as the doors constantly opened, letting in another blast of icy air.
When the last ceremony of the day ended, we were finally able to retreat upstairs away from the cold and were greeted with hot coffee and cookies. As my colleagues and I warmed our frozen fingers, I saw the following text message from my husband: “Hey babe, do you want to go ice skating this afternoon?”
But we did. And even though the air temperature was -2 (I don’t even want to think about the windchill), we had so much fun. I’m glad my husband dragged me out to the rink, even if it was a very cold day. We had such a wonderful afternoon ice skating, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss it bundled up on the couch, grumbling about the weather. With January in full swing, and more cold fronts on the way, here are my tips for ice skating on very cold days:
I’m talking lots of layers, warm socks, hats, gloves, mittens and scarves. If you don’t feel like the little brother in the Christmas Story, you aren’t doing it right. In all seriousness, if you aren’t dressed warmly enough for the weather, you will be uncomfortable. I like to wear a layer of Under Armour because it keeps me warm without getting sweaty and gross. Ski pants, snow pants or even wind pants make a great outer layer to guard against cold winds, and will also stay dry if you fall (or are pushed) in the snow.
2. Cover up!
Along with wearing appropriate clothing, it’s important to cover as much of your head and face as possible. Exposed skin can be vulnerable to frostbite in a very short amount of time, so make sure you are wearing a hat or headband to cover your ears, and a scarf or cowl for your face.
3. Wear thick socks
Okay, I know it sounds like I’m repeating myself, but hear me out. Wearing good socks is about more than staying warm. It is important for skates to fit tightly to prevent injuries, and most skates leave room for thick socks. If you live somewhere with cold winters, do yourself a favor and invest in some wool socks! Your toes will thank you.
Plain and simple, if you get too cold, head indoors. Most rinks have a warming house for the exact purpose. We went to Centennial Lakes, were the warming house has two huge wood fireplaces and a cafe selling hot chocolate. It’s a fun place to take a break and warm up. It’s important to listen to your body and come inside when you get uncomfortably cold.
5. Pay attention to the forecast
Sometimes it’s just too cold to be outside for extended periods. Remember a few winters ago when temps dropped to -25, not factoring wind chills? Schools were closed because it was too cold for kids to stand at their bus stops for a few minutes. On really cold days, it is best to stay indoors. If you really want to skate, check out an indoor rink like The Depot.
6. Hot Chocolate is always a good idea
All skating outings should end with hot chocolate, no exceptions. Whether you grab a cup of cocoa at your favorite coffee shop or café, or make your own at home, there’s no better way to warm up after ice skating than a mug of chocolate and a generous helping of whipped cream or marshmallows.
7. Consider investing in your own skates
Renting skates isn’t expensive ($2-$5 at most rinks I’ve been to), but if you love ice skating, it can add up. Our favorite outdoor rinks are all free, so the only cost is renting skates. I invested in a pair of skates back in high school, and with the limited skating season, they are still like new. Luke got a pair of skates for Christmas and couldn’t be happier. It’s great to always have a good pair of skates that fits, plus they pay for themselves in the long run. Owning our skates means an outing to the rink costs us nothing (except for hot chocolate, of course!), so we never feel guilty if we can only skate for a few minutes before getting too cold.
8. Have fun!
This one seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone ice skating or sledding with friends who complain the entire time about the cold. Bundle up and embrace the season, you’d be surprised how quickly you forget about the temperature. On of my favorite things about ice skating on cold days is the rink is practically deserted. Enjoy having the rink to yourselves, and admire the beautiful winter scenery. Soon enough it will be spring.