Last chance to grab a copy off the newsstands in NH and wherever (regionally) fine glossies are sold: Ice Capades, by me, in the January edition of New Hampshire magazine.
It is one of the most distinctive sounds of wintertime: the smooth scrape of metal blades on ice.
For anyone who has skated, that sound recalls the movement of flexing, leaning, digging first one blade edge into the ice to push and glide, then the other.
The scuff of blades on rink ice or a frozen pond brings to mind the gift of almost unnatural speed, the flick of a puck, the clash of competition. It recalls turns, spins and curlicues etched on ice. It revisits places reachable only in the coldest months of the year.
Ice skating is so basic to winter it’s prehistoric. The first skates were leg bones of deer or ox, bored with holes for leather straps. These bone skates allowed hunters and travelers to conserve energy by gliding rather than walking across frozen lakes.
Scroll down for the sidebars: Great places to skate in NH; How to do a one-foot spin; Safety on frozen ponds and lakes; How to build your own backyard skating rink; and How to play pond hockey…
The sunsets are amazing and the beer stays cold. Nothing beats a pick-up game of pond hockey at the end of a winter day or just passing a puck back and forth on the ice with a friend.
“It’s a big stress reliever,” says Kevin Keaveney. “It takes your mind off everything.”
The 42-year-old is energetic in his pursuit of relaxation. Keaveney scouts conditions at local ponds near his home in Exeter. He keeps his skills sharp playing indoors a couple evenings a week. He and his friends skated on a water hazard at a country club golf course until they were discovered and asked to leave. He has been known to knock on doors when he spots a decent man-made rink in someone’s yard.
His policy: “Never be afraid to grab a big shovel and help a group cleaning off a pond. Usually they’re more than happy to share, and you meet new friends.”
When he closes his eyes, he can picture the perfect black ice, several inches thick. It comes after a hard freeze and lasts only until snow falls and winter weathers the ice.
“It’s like skating on glass,” he reminisces.
Take a guy like Keaveney who grew up skating on ponds and never lost his love for it. Multiply him by a whole lot of other guys who did the same thing, or wish they did. Bring them together on 20 rinks on a very big lake in New Brunswick, Canada, for three days of intense competition and camaraderie. Call it the World Pond Hockey Championships.
This February, 120 teams from around the world with names like the Goaldiggers, Cold Fusion, Boston Long Shots, Maritime Mafia, Puckweisers and the Raggedy Ass River Boys will vie for the title.
Keaveney and his team, the Hard Chargers, will be there, too. It will be the sixth time they have competed — winning some games but not all, and loving almost every minute of it.
“The first year, the wind chill was minus 35,” he says. (read the rest)