Ice-skating options in Lviv

  • Ice-skating options in Lviv
Issue 9, January 2009.

In the late 19th century when Lviv was the eastern capital of the sprawling Central European Habsburg Empire, ice-skating was a popular city pastime, with a rink located on the city’s stunning Rynok Square. As part of recent efforts to return Lviv to its former imperial glory, this urban ice-skating tradition has been reinvigorated, with an ice rink returning to Rynok Square every year in time for St. Nikolas Day in mid December. Ice-skating has always been popular among Ukrainians, with their freezing winters and vast river networks, but the origins of the
modern-day sport lie thousands of miles to the west in Switzerland, where the oldest skates ever were recently discovered at the bottom of a lake. These 5000 year old skates were fashioned using the leg bones of large animals and fastened to the feet of the wearer using a relatively sophisticated system of leather strapping. The real innovators of ice skating technology, however, are the Dutch. Around the 14th Century, the Dutch started using wooden platform skates featuring flat iron runners on which to slide across the ice. Much like the ancient Swiss
bone skates, these rather rudimentary items were attached to the skater’s shoes with leather straps, while additional poles similar in function to a cross-country skier’s poles were employed to propel the user. As the sixteenth century dawned and the Dutch mercantile empire approached the zenith of its glory, the country’s engineers began adding a narrow metal double edged blade to their skates, making poles a thing of the past and allowing the skater to truly glide for the first time ever. This new sensation was soon dubbed “the Dutch Roll”.
The first artificial ice rink opened to the public in early 1876 at Chelsea in London and was named the Glaciarium. It was built near the King’s Road by John Gamgee and was one of many marvels then entrancing visitors to the capital of England, which was at the time the seat of the mightiest empire the world had ever seen. The skating craze soon caught on among the London population and spread throughout Europe, where it became part of the city landscape from Kyiv in the east to as far south as Paris and Munich.
Today, the largest outdoor ice rink in the world is located at the Fujikyu Highland Promenade in
Japan. This huge attraction was built in 1967 and boasts an area of 165,750 square feet, which is equal to 3.8 acres. Lviv’s ice rinks are of a more modest size, but the Rynok Square rink in particular offers one of Europe’s most original and inspired settings for some fun winter skating. Those with their own skates can enjoy the rink for 20 UAH before 17.00 and 30 UAH afterwards, with the price rising to UAH on weekends. Those without their own skates to rent
skates for an additional fee. Medyk ice rink is located on Gorbachevskogo str. 14 and is the home of the city’s ice hockey team. Instructors are available for hire here if you are looking on brushing up on your skills or learning from products of the Soviet Union’s celebrated ice skating school.