I was just curious on your thoughts about ice rinks that are located in the middle of shopping centres.
When I was looking at the results of the Triglav Trophy, I spotted a skater representing a country that is not normally associated with Winter Sports. And when I looked her up, I discovered that she is from a city that I am VERY familiar with.
Whenever I go to that country (I've been there about 15 times, for 2 weeks at a time), I ALWAYS stay in her hometown. In fact, after my hometown, her hometown is probably the place that I know my way around best… and her hometown is at the opposite side of Europe to mine! (Put it like this, I am more confident going around the city she lives in than I am going around the city I went to University in!)
Anyway, the only ice rink I know of in her hometown is located in the middle of a shopping centre. Now, admittedly, her ISU Bio said that she trained in a different city (which I also know better than my Uni city…! ). But, it nevertheless started me thinking:
How many elite level skaters started off skating in shopping centres? And who?
The girl that competed in the Triglav Trophy was not born in the country she represents. She is actually from Moscow, so probably took up skating back home before she moved to her adopted country (from personal experience, I can confidently say that there is a large Russian community in that country!)
HOWEVER, there are a couple of girls from that country competing in the World Development Trophy. And they are both “natives”.
One of them is from a city that got a purpose-built ice rink 3 years ago (I haven’t been to that city since it opened, so I don't know much about it). But the other girl is from the city I stay in. And, from looking at her Facebook page, she DOES train in the shopping centre I was talking about.
So, what is it like for a competitive skater to be training in a rink in the middle of a shopping centre? Surely there would be too many distractions, and you wouldn't be able to play your music at the proper level.
Then I made a discovery: this year’s National Championships were held in the shopping centre!!!
And it is not like it was a small entry. Although there were no Senior skaters, and only 1 Junior (the girl that went to the Triglav Trophy), all the lower age levels had lots of entries.
Here are some photos to give you an idea of what the rink is like:
Side view (from Ground Floor)
Aerial view (from 1st Floor)
But, what must it be like for a skater to go from doing a National Championships on a small rink in a shopping centre, to doing Junior GP and Senior B events on a full-size rink?! (Like the Russian did)
I don’t know where the rink the Russian trains at is located. I know that the city mentioned in her ISU Bio had a temporary rink a few years ago. But, surely that is not enough for a competitive skater. Admittedly, it is 3 years since I was last over there, so a permanent rink might have appeared since then. But, I can’t find any reference to one on the internet.
But, I’ll be back over there in September, so I will make sure to find out!
EDIT: Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying shopping centre rinks or temporary rinks are a bad thing. They are a great way for introducing youngsters to skating. But, when you get to the stage where you are doing it seriously, you really need to be training and competing on a full-size rink.