Figure skaters in Colorado Springs who skate in our city today, cannot imagine that there was once an "ice time famine" in a place that is considered an ice skating mecca.
Two years of ice skating darkness:
Between 1994 and 1996, Colorado Springs, which had been considered by some as the "capital of figure skating," had very little ice time available for its figure skaters and coaches. Those years were a very "dark time" in our city's figure skating history.
This dark time began in early 1994, when the world-famous Broadmoor World Arena was torn down. At the same time, The Plaza Ice Chalet, a beautiful and recreational ice skating rink which was located in downtown Colorado Springs, closed. It was said at the time that the Plaza Ice Chalet had to close its doors to make the need stronger for the Colorado Springs World Arena Ice Hall to be built.
Promise of something wonderful:
The parents of Broadmoor skaters met at the Broadmoor Hotel on the day the Broadmoor World Arena closed its doors. Plans for the Colorado Springs World Arena and the Ice Hall were explained to the Broadmoor skaters' families.
The speaker said, "This is like a pregnancy. We will have to struggle and scramble for ice time and wait for more than a year, but something beautiful will come out of this and a facility will be built that will be wonderful for all residents in Colorado Springs. It will all be worth it."
Not enough ice time for everyone:
Broadmoor's elite figure skaters secured private ice time at Colorado College's Honnen Ice Rink and at the Air Force Academy's ice rink, but all skaters below the junior level and their coaches had to scramble to find ice time at Sertich Ice Center, in Denver, and in Pueblo.
Sertich Ice Center's freestyle practice sessions were so full that instead of purchasing ice time on a first-come, first-serve basis, a monthly lottery system to reserve ice time was put into place and the length of those practice sessions were limited to 30 minutes. Only eight coaches and twenty skaters were allowed on the ice. Some people would reserve more ice time than they needed and sell 30 minutes slots in a "scalper-like" style to those desperate for ice.
Since Sertich Ice Center was the only ice arena in Colorado Springs that was open to the public, open public skating sessions at that facility were so crowded that private lessons on those sessions were a waste of time, and group ice skating lessons were overcrowded. Many lower-level skaters and beginners quit skating and found other sports to do. Several ice skating coaches were forced out of work.
Then, disaster struck when Sertich Ice Center's compressors temporarily went out for about two months. In response, Broadmoor World Arena's former manager, Lois Nesselhauf, secured some ice time at the Air Force Academy and invited those without a place to skate to use that ice temporarily.
Linda Kola Alexander and Donna Schoon invited some coaches to share Edge of Perfection's ice time at Colorado College, but skating at Colorado College was really not open to the public.
Ice hockey leagues could not obtain enough ice. Tension between figure skaters and hockey players increased.
Some ice skaters just moved away from Colorado Springs and found other places to skate and train.
A new beginning:
Finally, in April of 1996, Broadmoor's coaching staff moved their training base to the new and beautiful Colorado Springs World Arena Ice Hall.
Many of the local figure skating coaches who lived in Colorado Springs hoped to use the Ice Hall, but were not allowed to and still had to scramble for ice time. The coaches who were not able to use the Ice Hall went on the radio and on the television news and campaigned for a change in policy since the city of Colorado Springs had donated funds to the World Arena's parking lots. The issue became a cover story in the Colorado Springs Independent, a local weekly newspaper.
Adult figure skaters remember that they were not permitted to skate at the Ice Hall except on public sessions where no jumps, spins, or turns were permitted.
In June of 1998, the Ice Arena at Chapel Hills Mall opened its doors. Many of the local figure skating coaches who had struggled financially since 1994, were hired by Lisa Valentine Krenz, the manager of the mall rink. Skating's dark time may have ended when the mall opened since there was now plenty of ice time for skaters of all ages and levels in our city. (Sadly, the Ice Arena at Chapel Hills Mall closed it's doors in 2006.)
Diana Ronayne became the Colorado Springs World Arena's new skating director and met with local skating coaches about opening up the Ice Hall's doors for local guest and visiting coaches. Honnen Ice Rink at Colorado College opened up its ice time to the public. Figure skating coaches and skaters in Colorado Springs began to work together again. Skating in Colorado Springs began to flourish.