- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2002

Reston pavilion an area rink
where families enjoy gliding

My father tells me that in the olden days he and his friends, then ages 13 and 14, would spend winter afternoons at an ice-skating rink on Connecticut Avenue. During breaks in the piped-in music, the boys would scout out prospective partners lingering over on the “girls' side.” Finding partners, he says, they would skate, holding hands, around and around and around.

My 13-year-old niece, Marina, and her buddies Kara and Patricia looked at me with something nearing revulsion when I related that story to them on a recent Sunday afternoon. We were standing rinkside at the open-air Ice Skating Pavilion at Reston Town Center.

“Ew, I can't imagine,” Marina said. “You only do things like that if you know them or are a girlfriend or boyfriend. I guess now people would be too embarrassed to do that.”

Today, definitely, skating rinks are less an innocent pickup place and more a family activity to be enjoyed by everyone.

At the Reston rink on the day we visited, people of all shapes, sizes and abilities glided by as holiday tunes came through the loudspeakers. Small children pushed plastic barrels, leaning into them for balance, scraping their double-bladed skates back and forth on the ice. Teen-agers alternately speeding along or doing the shuffling gait of a first-time skater, huddled together. Adults former hockey players from Minneapolis or Albany, perhaps? skated by in concentration.

My group of girls skated around rather gingerly, stopping periodically to rest and report on the action, comparing notes on how better or worse their skating skills are this year.

“I think it's fun, and you get to do a little exercise at the same time,” Patricia said. “This is my first time this winter and I'm a little bit rusty, but you can get the hang of it pretty fast.”

Kara pointed out that she goes ice skating at least once every year with her family or friends, “and I see guys come here to practice hockey skating this is not just for girls.”

German au pairs Jessica Pracht, 20, of Berlin, and Caro Ruebner, 21, of Hamburg, free of their young charges for the day, were among those trying for a little outdoor diversion. Ms. Pracht stood on the sidelines offering moral support to Ms. Ruebner.

“We saw this place in the newspaper, so we wanted to check it out just for fun,” Ms. Ruebner said.

“Sometimes we do it at home in the winter,” Ms. Pracht added.

“I really like skating, but she said she's afraid, so she's not skating,” Ms. Ruebner said.

“I think about it, but I don't know,” Ms. Pracht said.

“She says she fell down in Germany,” offered Ms. Ruebner.

Ross Tobin, a construction-site project manager from Reston, was there with two children of friends.

“I brought the kids over while the women go shopping,” he said. “This place is really nice good music, a little of everything.”

Mr. Tobin said he grew up in Canada “with ice rinks in our back yards, so I kind of like it. Here, though, it's kinda nice because the weather's great and you don't have to freeze.”

My niece summarized the day from a teen-ager's point of view: “Ice skating is a lot better than doing something else like studying or being bored out of your mind because it's relaxing. You can fall if you want to, skate fast or slow, relax and be yourself.”

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