By Anthony Paradiso
In 1969, the twin-rink ice arena called Sky Rink opened its doors to the public at Pier 61. It is one of the three major facilities at Chelsea Piers that has an entire pier to itself.
It was renovated in 1995 and is the only indoor ice arena in Chelsea, and the only one near the Village.
Chelsea Piers’ Vice President of Corporate Communications Erica Bates says that “New York University uses Sky Rink because they never had their own ice rink.” Sky Rink is open seven days a week to Villagers for general skating, figure skating, birthday parties, special events, and adult league ice hockey.
Marni Halasa has coached figure skating at Sky Rink for the past 27 years. She also ran for City Council District 3 against Corey Johnson in 2017 and lost. She explained, “What Chelsea Piers offers us coaches is a unique place for us to work; but we also socialize, we help parents raise children, and we really build long-lasting relationships together. There is an intergenerational thing—where we have tots who are three and four years old, and pre-teens, teenagers, young adults, and older adults all learning to ice skate.”
A website called marniforcitycouncil.com describes Halasa’s Sky Rink All-Stars as a “United States Figure Skating nationally-ranked ‘theatrical showcase team’” and New York City’s “longest-running children’s skating theater.”
Halasa described what inspires her about her Junior Sky Rink All-Stars team. “So here I have this mini-Rockettes performing ice skating troupe and they’re really, really young. Usually my teams are older teenagers, but this team saw the senior team and said, ‘Oh, we want to do that.’ Skating is a wonderful outlet because there’s also a performance aspect to it that you don’t have in other sports. I feel like I’m raising the next generation of performers and they’ll take that skill wherever they go in life.”
Halasa does not only help kids on her teams but is also involved in helping kids from public housing developments learn to ice skate—specifically, the Elliott Houses on W 25th Street and Tenth Avenue and the Chelsea Houses on W 26th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues. “Sky Rink makes a concerted effort to always encourage people with limited means to skate,” Halasa said. “We have a youth hockey and figure skating scholarship program which is very robust, and I think that’s something that is bringing people from the community.”
Halasa explained what she believes ice skating has the power to do for the community, “What I like about skating is it’s like the great democracy. Everyone likes skating, no matter what age you are, no matter what income-level you are. When you mention ice-skating everybody’s eyes light up, so they want to come, and they want to experience skating. I know the parents love it, because ice skating is really booming.”
It costs $13 per person and $7 for skate rentals to attend a public session at Chelsea Piers’ Sky Rink. Ice skating there could be a fun way for Village families to spend an afternoon in a safe and friendly environment this season.