Kearns â¢ The Utah Olympic Oval has been a part of Phillip Canick’s life since 2012.
He played hockey in two of the oval leagues and now his 6 year old son, Cooper, is in his Learn to skate program.
The two make the trip from Cottonwood Heights to Kearns three times a week, year round.
âThe ice cream is always excellent. The facilities, to be as old as they are, you wouldn’t know, âhe said. âIt’s just a great place to be.
However, what makes Canick return to the site is the community it creates. “Lots of great lifelong friends I’ve made playing here.”
The Utah Olympic Oval – dubbed “the fastest ice on Earth,” at an altitude of over 4,500 feet – was built for the 2002 Winter Games. Flags from all over the world hang from the rinks and the athletics track, and the five Olympic rings remain ubiquitous images around the installation.
The space continues to host world-class races and remains a meeting point for people from across the valley to enjoy sports on and off the ice.
On any given day or night, the five-acre site can be filled with people young and old alike running on an indoor track, skating on an ice rink, playing hockey on a separate ice, or gliding, sliding and tripping on the 400. – oval speed skating meter.
âIt’s a great ice cream,â said Carolyn Krambule, who is a regular at public skating sessions. “We work with a lot of coaches, and they are all fantastic.”
Krabule’s family goes to the resort’s ice rinks at least four times a week. Her husband Dean plays hockey and her daughter Leia participates in the Learn to Skate program.
âIt’s a great place to go, find something to do,â Kraambule said, before being interrupted by her daughter. âOther than looking at screens and playing video games. “
For some, ice sports are pure entertainment. For others, these activities and the discipline they require have a deeper meaning.
Growing up in San Bernardino, California, Derek Parra found meaning in staying active.
âI came from Southern California with little around me to give a child,â Parra said, âmostly to get out of the bad neighborhood I grew up in.â
When he started speed skating the doors started to open and fame came. He won gold and silver medals at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Parra now works as the oval’s coach and athletic director.
âWe are a beacon of the community,â he said. âI can only imagine what it would be like if I were a young child, in this community with this amazing setup in my backyard. “
The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation offers scholarships to provide access to programs for those who cannot afford it.
Although the oval attracts many regulars, it is open to everyone from beginners to winter sports veterans. Like the theme of the 2002 Winter Games, it welcomes the world.
Here are six fun things to do there:
From August to March there are public skate sessions on the 400-meter oval. There are also skate lessons for different ages and abilities. Toddlers can start as early as 3 years old.
There are leagues for young people, both men and women. The Oval offers hockey skills lessons and a recommended hockey learning program for ages 4 to 12. Participants learn intensive skating, stick handling, passing and shooting.
A 442-meter indoor track with four lanes surrounds the oval. There is also an eight-lane, 110-meter sprint zone. High school and college athletes spruce up these tracks during the colder months.
Classes are available for beginners. Students use the same stones that slipped on the ice in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Curling leagues are open to learners and experienced players.
Before the pandemic, the oval hosted cosmic curling at night, with fluorescent “houses”, laser lights and a disco ball.
Introductory courses are offered for short and long track speed skating. A masters camp for competitive skaters over 30 is on hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The Oval offers private figure skating lessons for all skill levels, as well as freestyle sessions where skaters can play their music and practice their routines and competitive synchronized skating teams.
Parra recommends curling for people who want to avoid putting on skates
Not only is it fun on the oval, but it’s also a safe place, Parra said. “And I know from growing up in a roller rink how that changed the direction of my life.”
Alixel Cabrera is a Report for America body member and writes on the status of communities on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley for the Salt Lake Tribune. Your matching donation to our RFA grant helps her continue to write stories like this; please consider making a tax deductible donation of any amount today by clicking here.