An Albertan Ice Skating Experience at Rich Valley Arena

Seven years ago had someone said to me, “Aaron, one day you will learn to ice skate and enjoy it“, I would have wholeheartedly laughed back at your comment. The reason why, I would be laughing is back in my twenties a girlfriend tried getting me into rollerblading. The only thing I experienced then was gracefully falling down every 25-feet into a grassy lawn whilst trying not to destroy my ankles, elbows or face.

Two years into our return to Alberta, (circa 2013)

my wife decided that I needed to learn how-to ice skate because its a great Canadian past time. Reluctantly I agreed to strap on a pair of ice skates. Every Sunday afternoon we would hike up the street to the local arena and practice. I learned to push off my dominant foot, snow plow to a stop and how to use the boards in case of an emergency. As I struggled to learn the necessary skills at the ripe age of 37 I knew that I was definitely out of my element.

Two or so months into learning this new skill set, my wife received a phone call from her friends up in Rich Valley asking us to come out to the arena next weekend for a skate with their family.

My wife accepted this invitation and informed Steven and Alicia that I was not a skilled skater and their four kids would skate circles around me, so they should be warned before we get on the ice.

Saturday arrived and we packed the car then drove the 55-kilometres from Stony Plain to Rich Valley Arena. The arena sits on a stretch of rural Alberta secondary highway amongst poplar trees and farm fields.

The snow was fairly deep as we pulled our bags out of the car, the parking lot was packed full of vehicles. I knew then that this Arena held a special draw to the people of this community.

We entered the main doors, spotted Steven and immediately felt comfortable in our surroundings. We talked to our friends whom then began introducing us around to other families and their kids.

Pulling out our gear we all startes strapping into our skates. Skates on everyone woddled over to the arena door, pulling it back and entering into the single coldest place on earth, a hockey arena.

People moved in unison in a clockwise circle, kids scratching at the ice their skates tiptoeing, spinning, and running across its width! My eyes were dazzled by the sights, and sounds as this community of people, young and old were enjoying this afternoon.

First one skate then the next I crept out onto the ice and instantly grabbed the boards. Steven’s oldest two boys bounced in behind me then sprinted out across the ice to join their friends.

My eyes wanted a camera as my knees began to shake. Finally I made it out of the doorway and slowly, ever so cautiously I made my way down the rink.

The kids must have wondered if I was just messing around as I tried keeping my balance. They teamed up and started grabbing my jacket and yanking on my sleeves as they zoomed in and out just a few feet in front of me.

Each time they past I pleaded with a smile that I was no expert on skates and that I could barely stand. They laughed and giggled as young kids do when their enjoying themselves. Especially as they tormented this poor adult, who obviously was just kidding.

Until that moment when the oldest came barreling down on me and I grabbed him and three of his closest pals tackling them to the ice. Their jovial faces turning from happiness to sheer embarrassement. How could this guy just tackle us out here on the ice?

Every adult around began humbly laughing at their kids whom where now in a pile of arms, legs and skates along with me the comical ice skater.

It was in this moment as I lay beside our friends children laughing at the pile of humanity we had created that if I was ever going to keep up with these kids then I would need a whole lot more practice on the ice.

#krafthockeyville #saveourarena #rally4valley #albertapride