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Cold Comfort in Summer

The season's temperatures drive some indoors to a Burbank rink, where the ice is oh so nice

July 17, 2002|CINDY CHANG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With summer in full swing, the 30-second walk from the parking lot onto the ice of the Pickwick Ice Center in Burbank is a trek through distinct climate zones. Outside, the asphalt radiates the collected heat of the day; the impulse is to tear the clothes from your body, anything for relief. Step inside the lobby and soon a small "aaahhhh" escapes your lips. The oppressive heat outside fades from memory as the air-conditioning blows a gentle chill across your skin. Your midsummer garb now is perfectly comfortable.

But push through the double doors and into the rink's icy inner sanctum, and you're suddenly thrust into winter, rummaging frantically in your bag for a sweater.

Here, it's a different world, a world of mittens and fleece pullovers in July, graceful little girls leaping and spinning, the shush-shush of metal blade against ice. A man in a blue warmup suit, a fisherman's hat and thick gray gloves does slow-motion hops and twirls, never straying far from the middle of the rink, as other skaters swirl around him.

Small children cling to the walls, painstakingly inching a path around the rink. Andrea Baly of North Hollywood looked on fondly as her 4-year-old son, Zachary, made his way around, usually steady on his feet save for the occasional rear-bruising tumble. "It's one of our favorite summertime activities," Baly said. "All the children love it."

Jenny Kang, a fourth-grader who came to the rink with a summer school group from Koreatown, skated confidently if not quite gracefully. She said that she had never ice skated before but she picked it up pretty easily. "It's a lot like roller-blading," she said.

Danielle Waite and Irina Popov, street-hip teens in tees and tight jeans, are counselors at a nearby equestrian camp. They come to the rink to cool off and play the arcade games that line the wall next to the snack bar.

"It's really hot outside, so it feels good to be cold," Waite said.

"At 10:30 in the morning, it's already 100 degrees out. I come here to cool off," said Danielle Ronceros, a senior at Reseda High School in Reseda.

For others, the rink is a constant in their lives, no matter the weather outside. Rachelle Bricker, a 74-year-old retired aesthetician from Burbank, has skated here Mondays and Fridays since 1963. "I have air-conditioning at home, so it's more about the exercise and seeing friends," said Bricker, who cuts a distinct figure on the ice in a fuchsia warmup suit with matching hair tie and earrings.

"Some people consider [ice skating] a winter sport. There aren't the hordes you would expect [during the summer] ... but it's a great way to beat the heat," said Sean Bachand, the rink's assistant manager.

Though a world apart from the sunbaked asphalt outside, the rink is not devoid of personal ambition. The mother of a ponytailed young girl demonstrated the "right" way to jump, with vehement gestures and commentary. The girl listened expressionlessly, nodded, then glided onto the ice to try yet again.

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