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Sport Spotlight

Tips for outdoor recreation and outdoor sportsOutdoor Sport Spotlight

Wild or mild outdoor sports and recreation are a passion of the camping.com editors.  Here we profile different sports and outdoor recreation activities.  We'll give you tips on getting started, tell you about the great places for outdoor sports and show you what gear you need to be comfortable in all conditions.  So whether you're a seasoned outdoor sports enthusiast or a enthusiastic beginner we have tips and advice to make the most of your outdoor recreation passion.

Outdoor Ice Skating

Outdoor Ice Skating

Ice Skating is one of the favored outdoor winter sports of all time. Whether you skate outdoors on a lake or pond or make do with indoor ice rinks, ice-skating is a very accessible sport. Once you discover the delights of gliding across the ice, you may want to graduate from simple outdoor ice-skating to a more challenging form of ice-skating, such as figure skating and speed skating.  These types of ice-skating can become careers for people, but it's not necessary to be an expert to enjoy the delights of ice-skating.

When outdoor ice-skating, there are a few very important safety concerns you need to be aware of.  The greatest danger you will face when skating outside is the possibility of falling through the ice. It is very important that you find a pond or river that is thoroughly iced over. If you think the ice may be thin or weak, don't skate on it. Falling through the ice into freezing water puts you at serious risk for hypothermia and drowning. Once in, it is hard to get back out.  The ice can continue to break around the skater or they may not be able to find the hole that they fell through. These warnings are not meant to deter you from skating outdoors, but to help you avoid potential disaster.

Beginning skaters will need some ice skates. Most ice rinks have rentals, which are good enough for beginners. It is best to start out on figure skating style skates rather then hockey skates, as they have a toe pick which helps with pushing off. Learning to skate will be easier if the skates are well maintained and sharp. You may also want certain safety equipment including elbow and kneepads when you are first learning. Wearing a helmet is also an important safety precaution as a beginner.  Ice is very hard and the potential for falling puts you at risk for head injury.

After you have found adequate ice skates, any safety equipment you may want, and a good place to skate, you are ready to start learning. When learning outdoors, you should bring along someone who already has experience skating outside. If you are learning at a rink, you can sign up for lessons and will most likely be surrounded by people who already know how to skate -- this will not be the case outdoors.

Start by standing on the ice with both feet. Try to bend your legs and remain relaxed. If you become too tense you are more likely to fall. Try to walk in your skates; this will help you become familiar with the feel of the ice and how the skates move. Outdoors you will not have a wall to hold on to, so use your arms for balance. If you are learning at a skating rink, try not to hold on to the wall -- you need to learn to balance yourself without holding on to something.

Once you are more comfortable, try to glide a little. To do this, stand on one foot and use the other to push diagonally outwards and backwards. You will propel forward.  Bring the pushing-off foot to the other side and shift your weight to it, gliding forward. Continue this pattern pushing off with the same foot until you become comfortable with this movement. The next step is to begin taking longer strokes, which will move you faster and more smoothly. Then you can begin alternating the foot you push off with, so you have a fluid pattern of movement.

As you learn to skate, you will become more and more confidant.  Soon you will find yourself practically flying across the ice. Outdoor skating is particularly wonderful since other skaters probably won’t surround and crowd you. You can enjoy the beautiful winter weather and smell the crisp fresh air. Ice-skating outside is one of the greatest pleasures in winter.  For many ice-skating outdoors is one of the winter traditions they most look forward to, and perhaps it will become a great tradition for you too.

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