“Why did you have to choose the sketchiest one?” freshman Smita Sikaria asked me as our mini-van pulled into the parking lot of Iceland (1430 Del Paso Blvd.).
A lady with bright-green hair and a couple of 12-year-olds with nose rings had just entered the building, so freshmen Lily Brown, Molly Gherini and Sikaria had been a little thrown off. However, they got out of the car anyway.
Iceland’s parking lot was one big mud puddle after a recent storm, so we had to drive around the corner to the back.
We passed a woman in the parking lot who was selling glittery, skin-tight leotards and entered a small courtyard.
A perky attendant had us fill out a waiver and, after ducking into a shed, cheerily gave us our skates ($8 for the day). Brown and Sikaria received padded skates, but the rest of us had plastic ones that gave us blisters by the end of the day.
Because the snack bar had only a couple of bags of chips and a few candy bars that cost a dollar each, we decided to pass on buying snacks and wobbled into the main building after putting on our skates.
The exterior of the building may look like a classic 1950’s skating rink—with a neon spire and turquoise stripes running around the building—but the inside told a different story.
To start, the rink has no roof, and parts of the building are crumbling away.
In 2010, arsonists set fire to Iceland and the roof caved in. Instead of rebuilding, the owners decided to hang a few tarps where the roof used to be.
The rest of the building is in similar disrepair. There are few lights inside, so it feels a little gloomy, and the massive puddles underneath the rotting wooden bleachers hint that Iceland has some problems with leaking.
While teetering past the bleachers, I heard a fallen child scream and start crying, which didn’t give me much confidence.
I’ve always had a problem with balance. On one lower-school report card, a teacher wrote: “Sonja has no athletic ability and never will.”
On my first lap around the rink, I clung to the wooden railing and kept my eyes on my feet. My friends glided across the ice, but I was fully committed to staying upright, so I took my time.
There was a small crowd of about 30 on the ice, and most of the spectators stood leaning on the railing instead of sitting on the soggy bleachers. Some little kids played in the small patch of slushy, gray snow in the middle of the rink and threw goopy snowballs at the slow skaters, including me.
It wasn’t easy to gain confidence with my ice-skating skills while toddlers skated like they were training for the Olympics and a girl, who had taken possession of one side of the rink, did spins and jumps while her coach provided harsh commentary.
After gaining more faith in myself, I decided to attempt a spin to take that girl down a peg. I raised my arms, kicked out my leg and fell on my butt. Of course, both the girl’s coach and my friends were watching.
With sore ankles and stiff backs, we decided to leave after just two hours.
All in all, I’d be just as happy if Iceland either underwent major refurbishments or was set ablaze again to be put out of its misery
“What do we love?”
When I walked into Skatetown (1009 Orlando Ave. in Roseville), I first noticed the enormous number of “Frozen” posters, in addition to cardboard cutouts of Elsa and Olaf. That is, other than the screaming of small children.
The emotionless, empty eyes of Olaf the snowman followed me everywhere I went in the arena. From the gigantic blow-up snowman peering over a corner of the rink to the little party hats on some of the skaters, I couldn’t get away from him and his big-toothed smile.
Once I stopped drowning in “Frozen” paraphernalia, I started to appreciate the more sophisticated icicle-shaped Christmas lights dotting the glass surrounding the indoor rink. They added an icy elegance to the skating experience, especially when the main ceiling lights were turned off.
The actual facility matched the decorations in quality. Skatetown has two indoor and one seasonal outdoor rink. One of the indoor rinks was being used for hockey practice, while the other two were open to the public.
I mustered only a few half-hearted laps around the rink before my ankles started to hurt from my loose-fitting rental skates. Luckily, I didn’t fall, but I nearly crashed into a few small children wearing sparkly blue Elsa dresses.
Then an employee came on the ice with a megaphone and started a game with some kids having a birthday party.
Sorry, but no limbo for me.
However, before I left, I tried an ice-rink staple: the churro.
I haven’t eaten many churros in my lifetime, but this one made me want to eat more. It had the perfect amount of cinnamon and crunch, and was slightly soft on the inside.
And the mozzarella sticks were even better.
I look forward to returning to Skatetown, but not until the “Frozen” fad is over.
Previously published in the print edition on Jan. 13, 2015.