If your little one walks around the house in a knit cap and ice skates, humming the Olympic Fanfare and Theme song, she just might be a little obsessed with the upcoming Winter Olympics. And can you blame her? It’s the height of excitement, with a memorable opening ceremony, inspiring athlete stories, and iconic record-breaking moments. Feed into her curiosities (and possibly nurture the talents of a future Olympian) by checking out one of these local spots that offer Winter Olympic sports play and competition for sporty tykes.
Quick Pick: Speed Skating
Zooming by at an average of 30 miles per hour (FYI, that’s faster than a blue jay!), speed skaters combine the gracefulness of ballerinas with the grit of race car drivers. Racing around a 400m rink, skaters aim to beat the clock (and each other). If your little speedster is itching to race like Apolo Ohno, visit Potomac Speed Skating where 1994 Olympic gold medalist Jihoon Chae from South Korea coaches future skating stars. With classes and lessons for all ages, you can start off with a free trial session, and then sign up for the “learn to speed skate” 10-session class. Classes are offered year round, and no worries if your kids are brand new to the ice or are regular ice dancers, as everyone can learn to zoom on the ice.
Ages: 4 and up
Wheaton Ice Arena
11717 Orebaugh Ave. (Wheaton, Md)
Cabin John Ice Rink
10610 Westlake Dr. (Rockville, Md)
Prince William Ice Center
5180 Dale Blvd. (Woodbridge, Va)
Clean Sweep: Curling
This team sport debuted at the Nagano games in ‘98. Known as “chess on ice,” curling (in case you’re like, “what?”) involves sliding granite stones across the ice with broom-like sticks. While it may not be the most physically demanding sport at the Olympics, it does take a great deal of skill, strategy and teamwork to choose the best path for the stone. If your little one wants to throw stones for fun, and you’re excited that she’ll learn how to use a broom (finally) head over to the Potomac Curling Club for some Olympic-inspired fun. Kiddos can start off in the “Middle Rocker” program throwing lighter-weight, half-size “middle rocks”—they’ll learn the basics of curling, plus other ice games that hone their skills and prepare them for half-sheet and full-sheet curling games.
Ages: 6 and up
Potomac Curling Club
13810 Gunpowder Rd. (Laurel, Md)
Snow Bunny On Board: Snowboarding
Hanging an inverted ariel off a half pipe (when a snowboarder’s head is below his board in the air) might not be your idea of fun, but Olympian Shawn White (plus, your little daredevil) would beg to differ. When kiddo starts begging you for a little moguls action, head north to Liberty or Roundtop Mountain where she can start by conquering some bunny slopes in preparation for the double blacks miss fearless will be itching to take on after some snowboarding 101. Lessons for tots starting at 3-years-old start off slow–strapping on the board, moving around on flat surfaces, sliding down the mountain (slowly), and, of course, riding the chairlift. Before you know it, Junior will be zipping through the slopes like a pro.
Ages: 3 and up
Roundtop Mountain (Lewisberry, Pa) 925 Roundtop Rd. Online: skiroundtop.com
78 Country Club Trail (Carroll Valley, Pa)
Spin Master: Figure Skating
It’s hard not to be glued to the Olympics–especially when figure skating takes center ice. If your little one can’t take her eyes off of the triple lutzes, beautiful outfits and amazing choreography, it may be time to let her try her hand at her own double axels and Biellman spins. The U.S. Figure Skating Association Skate with U.S. Program (USFSA) at the National Gallery of Art’s Ice Rink includes skate rental, ice time, and lessons. Designed for recreational and competitive skaters alike, the USFSA’s program can take your little one from the rink to the Olympic stage by teaching them correct techniques starting with Snowplow Sam (learning to stand on skates, march, and glide) and going all the way up to Olympic training classes.
National Gallery of Art
Constitution Ave. and 9th St.
What is your kids favorite Winter Olympics sport to watch? Tell us in the comments section below.
Photos courtesy of Potomac Speed Skating Club via Facebook, Potomac Curling Club via Facebook, U.S. Figure Skating Association Skate with U.S. Program via Facebook, Roundtop Mountain via Facebook