Ice Chalet Down Because Of COVID
• The ice rink inside the Promendade has been a center of activity on the Peninsula since 1981.
With the weather changing and the holiday season coming in a few months, people looked forward to the Christmas Carol shows and other activities at the Ice Chalet in the Promenade on the Peninsula shopping mall. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the owners of the Promenade decided to close the Ice Rink on Sept. 27, until further notice.
“It was really a COVID-19-related situation, and whether the closing is temporary or permanent is still unknown,” said co-owner of Ice America Scott Williams. “There can not be an end date because we do not really know when the pandemic will end.”
Williams has managed the Ice Chalet for the past five years and is disheartened to have the rink close. Once the decision was made, the company has worked to thaw the ice and shut down the equipment in the rink. Head figure-skating coach Alex Schmainda and other skating instructors were looking to temporarily move to a rink in Harbor City. However, the Harbor City rink was closed as well, due to health code violations. The double closing has been a shock to the skating the community.
“When we were told about the decision via a Zoom call, all of us turned our cameras off and started bawling our eyes out,” Schmainda said. “It has been really rough for all of us instructors because ice skating has been our escape.”
Schmainda has been skating at the Ice Chalet since she was five years old. Now, after graduating from her undergraduate school, she has been coaching students from ages four to 15 to help these young skaters hone their abilities.
According to Schmainda, the news of the rink closing has been difficult not only on her but the community that has used the Ice Chalet over the years, as the rink served as a hub to create friendships with like-minded skaters and to expand their passions on the ice.
“For some of my students, the rink is all they know,” Schmainda said. “Many of them do not do high school sports, so skating is like their own little team.”
The closing of ice rinks due to COVID-19 health regulations has impacted skaters beyond the Hill. Corona-based figure-skater Kylee Lou explains that the closing of ice rinks will cause many skaters to lose opportunities to practice because there is a lack of flexibility in where and when you can practice.
“Losing an ice rink is really a big deal to skaters because it is not as convenient as other sports like soccer, as there are many grass fields out there but not many with durable ice,” Lou said. “I feel bad for the many skaters who have been using the Ice Chalet because they now lost a place to practice.”
Schmainda is also worried about the closing of the rink, as it has been cornerstone of the Hill for decades. Since its opening in the 1980s as the Ice Capades Chalet, through its closing then reopening in the late 1990s with new equipment and the ability to host hockey, the Ice Chalet has been a location where beginner skaters could hone their skills in a smaller sized rink.
Williams explained how he also once worked as a coach at the Ice Chalet in 1989 and has seen how the rink has progressed through the years to the place it is now.
“I’m from the area, so I have spent a lot of time at the Ice Chalet,” Williams said. “It’s a friendly rink to skate for beginners and even works as a place for a family outing, so, of course, no one wants to see it go.”
The community’s reaction to the decision to close has been full of sadness and loss, as the rink was a second home for many.
In response, Schmainda said there is currently a petition out to protest the closure, as many feel frustrated due to the decision being announced after the Ice Chalet passed the health requirements against COVID-19. She hopes that the community can gather together to keep the rink and its memories on the Hill.
“A lot of my experience as a skater is rooted in the Ice Chalet, from finding my passion in pairs skating to meeting so many of my friends,” Schmainda said. “Everyone skated there, even my parents. It is definitely a cornerstone of our community, so it’s definitely hard for us right now.”