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National Skating Month kicks off

U.S. Figure Skating, USA Hockey and US Speedskating team up

Meissner skates her way to gold at Skate America.
Meissner skates her way to gold at Skate America. (Michelle Harvath)

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(01/03/2008) - National Skating month kicked off Jan. 1, with U.S. Figure Skating, USA Hockey and US Speedskating joining forces to promote all forms of skating. Nearly 300 skating clubs across the United States are participating and offering free lessons.

Olympians Kimmie Meissner (U.S. Figure Skating) and Scott Gomez (USA Hockey) and three-time Olympic medalist Chad Hedrick (US Speedskating) are encouraging those who have never tried ice skating to take advantage of the free lessons being offered by participating ice skating rinks.

"The great thing about National Skating Month is that families can go to any participating rink for free lessons and all sorts of other fun events," said Meissner, the reigning U.S. champion and 2006 World champion. "It's a sport and a pastime for people of all ages, and I encourage everyone to visit their local rinks to see how they can get involved in this wonderful activity."

Some of the local events taking place during National Skating Month include:

Saint Paul, Minn., will host the 2008 U.S. Championships, Jan. 20-27. During the event, the Wells Fargo Winter Skate outdoor skating rink will conduct two National Skating Month activities. Free 20-minute group lessons will be offered on the half hour from 2-6 p.m. on Jan. 21 and 10 a.m.-noon on Jan. 27.

The Olympic Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., kicked off National Skating Month in style with its "Lake Placid Midnight Madness" New Year's Eve celebration. Participants were able to "Skate Into 'O8," with proceeds supporting scholarship funds of the Skating Club of Lake Placid and the Adirondack Speed Skating Club.

The Fairbanks Figure Skating Club of Fairbanks, Alaska, will host a skating exhibition and free skating session on January 26. The club will offer four free half-hour group lessons, games and door prizes.

Olympic gold medalist and two-time World champion Kristi Yamaguchi will join the Skating Club of North Carolina for a "Skate with Kristi Yamaguchi Day." The day's activities include free group lessons and an autograph-signing session with Yamaguchi.

The Magic Blades FSC will host a skating exhibition and free group lessons on Jan. 6.

Anchorage, Alaska, will host a pond-hockey skills seminar and a "Fire on Ice" exhibition on Goose Lake on Jan. 27.

The goal of National Skating Month is to increase awareness and participation in ice skating sports. National Skating Month allows U.S. Figure Skating member clubs and Basic Skills programs to reach out to new members in their community by offering the fundamentals of ice skating from professionally trained instructors across the United States.

During the month-long celebration, activities at participating rinks will include free skating, free lessons and clinics, exhibitions, skating demonstrations, hockey games, storytelling, parent education, equipment swaps, fundraising activities, DJ parties at the rink and local celebrity appearances. A complete listing of the National Skating Month events offered throughout the country will be available at U.S. Figure Skating Online.