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Ice Skating

In the world of international figure skating, the United States has had many stars over the years, both male and female. The United States has won more Olympic medals in figure skating than any other country. The American system of training for these competitions and events is strong, yet, for every young Olympic hopeful, thousands of ordinary Americans enjoy ice-skating for its recreational value. Ice skating is a social sport and is an ideal family sport.

Ice-skating rinks, both outdoor and indoor, abound in the United States, and not only in cold-climate areas. Some rinks are architecturally distinctive. The elegant outdoor rink in Rockefeller Center in New York City is a major tourist attraction, attracting some skaters, and many watchers. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. operates an outdoor ice rink combined with a substantial outdoor sculpture gallery. The Guidant John Rose Minnesota Oval in Roseville, Minnesota, at 110,000 square feet, is the largest artificial outdoor skating rink in North America. During the summer, when the ice melts, the oval is used for BMX biking and rollerblading.

Many communities maintain ice rinks as part of their public recreational programs. The Hommocks Park Ice Rink, operated by the town of Mamaroneck, New York, is perhaps typical of a full-service community ice skating center. From September through June, the indoor rink is available for open public skating on Sunday and Friday afternoons, and on certain school holidays. The center operates a skating school for children (from age 4) through adults, with group lessons for various levels lasting up to five weeks, as well as a youth (ages 5-12) ice hockey program. Town residents pay less than out-of-towners for the various services.

Private ice rinks offer many of the same services as public rinks: instruction, skate rentals, snack bars and the like. Ice rinks have even begun to spring up in that icon of American culture, the shopping mall. Along with its strong array of non-shopping entertainments, the immense Mall of America in Minnesota features a prominent rink. The Ballston Common Mall in Arlington, Virginia operates an ice center with two ice rinks, open to the public for both hockey and skating. In Frisco, Texas, which has a decidedly warm climate, the Stonebriar Centre operates a full-service ice facility and skating school. The nearby Dallas Galleria Mall has a similar facility, as does the Galleria in sub-tropical Houston. As a participatory sport and as a business, ice-skating is alive and well in the United States.

U.S. Figure Skating is the overseeing organization for the sport of figure skating in the United States and has more than 170,000 members. It runs the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame at its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The organization sponsors more than 1,000 figure skating events annually, many of which are widely covered by the media. It also sets standards for teaching and training.

Elaborate ice shows are popular family entertainment in the United States. These shows feature skaters costumed as popular animated characters from television and films, often combined with exhibitions of skating prowess by popular skating stars.

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