Okay, wow. Someone reminded me the other day that there used to be an indoor ice rink in Sugar House. My brain activated a very clear image of me and my friend Mike going to Hygeia Iceland one night during college. It was located right across from the Irving School apartments on 2100 South in Salt Lake City. I do not and did not then ice skate. I believe we were drunk as skunks and just slid out on our tennis shoes to cause havoc during a fundraiser for the Westminster football team. But I digress. Summer’s about here, so who’s thinking about ice skating? Many folks love the ice because they grew up playing hockey and the Super Bowl of hockey, the Stanley Cup final, begins this week. All puck fans will have their Kings or Rangers bets on. Utah has a team but it’s a minor one (The ECHL), like the Salt Lake Bees are in stature to the New York Yankees. Sadly, out of the original 26 teams only 10 are left. Minor league hockey hasn’t been faring as well as the big leagues.
From what I have discovered, Utah’s first high school hockey team was established and played at Hygeia Iceland in 1969. They were sponsored by the now defunct (and politically incorrect) Sambos Restaurant. There was a smaller rink up in Ogden around the same time known as the ‘Cow Palace’ which had a half sized rink and produced many amateur teams . In the early ’60’s the Deseret News reported that youth programs were skating at both the old Salt Palace and at Hygeia Iceland. The Salt Lake Eagles team played in Sugar House and traveled to rinks in the Intermountain West and Alberta Canada in 1960-61 . And the State archives have photos of people skating at Liberty Park in 1917, which makes sense as many Utahns emigrated from Scandinavian countries where skating was the norm.
Where can you ice skate or play hockey here? The most famous rink is of course the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns. The University of Utah has a rink at the sports complex on Guardsman Way with Saturday theme nights with music and a disco ball for only $4.00 and a $2.00 skate rental. West Valley has the Acord Ice Center and South Davis has a rink for public skating as well. When it gets hot this summer it’s cool and cheap to glide along the ice indoors. Even better, there are summer hockey leagues to get your game.
My favorite trivia about ice skating in Utah is: 1) Frank Zamboni was born in Eureka, Utah. He invented a machine that goes along the ice surface to shave it, smooth it and adds a fresh sheen of thin water to make more ice as it passes; 2) my agent Ben skated as ‘Woody’ for Disney on Ice around the world; 3) 2002 Olympic skater Michelle Kwan lived at American Towers condominiums during the games; 4) Dorothy Hamill, who won gold for the USA in Olympic skating in 1976 was the woman who ran the Olympic torch from the parking lot into the U of U stadium during the opening Ceremonies of 2002. Speed skater Eric Heiden refused to come to the 2002 games here because he wasn’t chosen to light the Olympic torch. What a putz. The 1980 gold-medal U.S. Hockey team got that honor.