We’re giddily counting down (and hope you are too!) to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang on Feb. 9th. Growing up, we’ve all probably imagined ourselves standing proudly atop the Olympic podium, gold medal gleaming around our neck, holding back the ugly cry as the national anthem plays. Way before the gold though, comes hours, days and years of hard work and training to become one of the most elite athletes in the world. Every Olympian has to start somewhere and we’ve got the scoop on how to do it here at home.

photo: Hollywood Curling via Facebook

CURLING

Hollywood Curling
An Olympic sport that continues to grow in popularity now that more and more Americans are learning what the heck it even is, curling involves two teams of four players each sliding stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area that is segmented into four concentric circles. Think shuffleboard on ice. One might be surprised to find love for such an unusual sport in sunny southern California, but Hollywood Curling is working hard to change all that. A member of the United States Curling Association, Hollywood Curling is fostering a deep passion for the sport by offering curling lessons and leagues that compete on a local, national and international level. “Learn to Curl” lessons are available for kids aged 8 and up throughout the year at ice rinks in Pasadena and Valencia and are a swell opportunity to learn the basics of the sport without any pressure. Most classes are filled with first-timers, so no need to worry about going for gold right out of the gate.

Tip: Check out Hollywood Curling’s website for the most up-to-date schedule of classes. Come to class in sneakers, a sweatshirt and loose fitting pants that allow you to lunge and move freely.

Hollywood Curling
818-850-6692
Online: hollywoodcurling.wildapricot.org

photo: Toyota Sports Center via Facebook

FIGURE SKATING

The upcoming Olympics are going to be more exciting than ever as PyeongChang is the first time competing figure skaters will be allowed to use vocal music in their Olympic routines. Think triple axles and sit spins to jams from Prince, Hamilton and maybe Foo Fighters as they fight for medal glory. But the real excitement comes from the tireless training these athletes have put in on the ice day after day in rinks just like the ones we’ve rounded up below.

Toyota Sports Center
Starting as young as 3 years old, Toyota Sports Center offers skating lessons for your aspiring Bradie Tennells and Nathan Chens. Group classes and private coaching are available, as well as specialty classes focusing on spins and jumps. The primary goal of every class is for each student to correctly learn all the skills presented before moving on to the next level.

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Pickwick Ice
Pickwick Ice in Burbank has hosted its fair share of national skating champions over the years, so your tots will no doubt be in good hands in their figure skating program. Kiddos can start at age 3 and work their way up the ladder learning spins, jumps, transitions and everything they need to know to become the strongest skaters possible.

Pasadena Ice Skating Center
For those of you living closer to Pasadena, the Pasadena Ice Skating Center may be your best bet. Figure skating classes are offered year-round at all levels with each covering basic ISI (Ice Skating Institute) test level requirements. Private lessons are also available by appointment and occasionally on a walk-in basis.

Toyota Sports Center
El Segundo
310-535-4400
Online: toyotasportscenter.com

Pickwick Ice
Burbank
818-845-5300
Online: pickwickice.com

Pasadena Ice Skating Center
Pasadena
626-578-0800
Online: skatepasadena.com

photo: Blue Angel Snow Youth Ski and Snowboard Camp via Facebook

SKIING & SNOWBOARDING

Blue Angel Snow Youth Ski and Snowboard Camp
One thing all Olympic skiers and snowboarders have in common is their dedication to training on a consistent basis. With easy access to Mountain High Ski Resort, LA kiddos can now learn to master the slopes with more structure and regularity through the Blue Angel Snow Youth Ski and Snowboard Camp. This totally unique camp for young athletes offers five Saturday day ski and snowboard trips to Mountain High with round-trip luxury bus transportation, lift tickets, full days of instruction and mentoring from expert teachers, as well as lunch and snacks. The camp is open for youngsters of all skill levels ages 7-to-16. Snow coaching groups are age and ability matched with ten kids per instructor. For many families whose little ones truly want to learn the sport and improve their skills, this camp becomes a yearly tradition.

Tip: If your schedule doesn’t allow for the Blue Angel Snow Camp this year, be sure to check out the plethora of fantastic ski and snowboarding lessons offered daily at any number of resorts in and around LA from Big Bear Mountain Resorts and Snow Valley to Mt. Baldy and of course, Mountain High.

Blue Angel Snow Youth Ski and Snowboard Camp
Mountain High Resort
858-509-8926
Online: blueangelsnow.com

photo: Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain via Facebook

BOBSLEDDING

Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain
What kid didn’t dream of becoming an Olympic bobsledder after watching the movie Cool Runnings growing up? Ya man! Now, every pint-sized Angeleno can realize their dreams with Southern California’s only authentic bobsled experience, the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain in Big Bear. Open year-round, the Alpine Slide offers riders (young and old) the chance to steer their own sled down one of two long cement tracks filled with hair-raising high-banked turns and heart-pumping straightaways. Rides cost $6 a pop, but kiddos aged 2-to-6 ride free with an adult.

Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain
Big Bear Mountain
909-866-2646
Online: alpineslidebigbear.com

photo: Santa Clarita Speed Skating Club via Facebook

SPEEDSKATING

Santa Clarita Speedskating Club
For LA tykes who feel the need — the need for speed skating that is — check out the Santa Clarita Speed Skating Club. Group lessons in short track speed skating are offered to skaters as young as 5 years old at the Ice Station Valencia. Students are separated by age, ability, and size during lessons to make the most of their time on the ice. The Santa Clarita Speed Skating Club season runs September through April, so you still have time this year to give it a whirl!

Santa Clarita Speedskating Club
Valencia
661-373-3221
Online: scssc.net

photo: Toyota Sports Center via Facebook

ICE HOCKEY

If the enormous crowds at every LA Kings game are any indication, Angelenos have some serious goo-goo eyes for ice hockey. Luckily, we have some great rinks around town that offer lessons to aspiring young players who may have Olympic dreams of their own someday.

Toyota Sports Center
The Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo is the official training center for the LA Kings and offers a fabulous (and free) Kids First program that introduces kids to the sport. The Toyota Center also features ongoing classes, camps, and leagues.

Pickwick Ice & Iceland Ice Skating Center
For families who live in the valley, check out classes at Pickwick Ice in Burbank and their California Golden Bears youth hockey club. In nearby Van Nuys, Iceland Ice Skating Center offers kids’ hockey clinics on Wednesday evenings.

Pasadena Ice Skating Center
Not to be outdone in Pasadena, the Pasadena Ice Skating Center offers a variety of lessons for all ages and skills levels, as well as an in-house youth hockey league program.

Toyota Sports Center
El Segundo
310-535-4400
Online: toyotasportscenter.com

Pickwick Ice
Burbank
818-845-5300
Online: pickwickice.com

Iceland Ice Skating Center
Van Nuys
818-785-2171
Online: valleyskating.com

Pasadena Ice Skating Center
Pasadena
626-578-0800
Online: skatepasadena.com

Littles interested in trying out an Olympic sport? Let us know how it goes in the comments below. Who knows, maybe we’ll see them in 2022!

–Jennifer O’Brien

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