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Ormond Beach Observer Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2018 8 months ago

Winter Olympics are over? Not in Daytona

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The Olympics have inspired some residents to pick up winter sports.
by: Ray Boone Sports Editor

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games came to an end nearly two weeks ago, but the people of the hot and humid Flagler and Volusia Counties are still feeling inspired.

Nearly a week after the conclusion of the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, a local couple walked into the Daytona Ice Rink looking to ice skate, according to arena employee Brandon Galarneau. Galarneau said that the couple, inspired by the majestic and graceful performances of the world’s top ice skaters at the Olympics, wanted to give skating a shot.

It was their first time on the ice — ever.

“The better we do in the Olympics, the more hype winter sports gets here in the United States,” Galarneau said.

The Daytona Ice Arena, located at 2400 S. Ridgewood Ave. in Daytona Beach, held a celebration for the Winter Olympics on Feb. 24. The arena, which is the only available ice rink in both Flagler and Volusia counties, hosted a figure skating event, youth and adult hockey games, speed skating and curling. Hundreds of people filtered into the arena throughout the day.

The arena also has a “Learn to Skate” program, which teaches its students the basics of ice skating in a once-per-week, 30-minute group lesson. The program, which sees about 100 total students on most days, has increased by about 20-to-30 students since the conclusion of the Olympics.

“I’ve met figure skaters throughout the years who said the only reason they got into it was because they saw people like Michelle Kwan or (Kristi) Yamaguchi or people like that competing in the Olympics,” Galarneau said. “It inspired them to come out and try the sport.”

In addition, the arena also offers a “Learn to Curl” program. In its last session, the class saw over 40 people attend — its highest attendance ever.

What does all this mean, exactly?

Maybe it’s time to put down the surfboard and pick up a pair of ice skates!

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