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Skaters Test the Plastic at Canoga Park's Iceless Rink

It's less slippery, doesn't need to be chilled and costs less to maintain. But blades with toe picks are not allowed.

January 03, 2004|Stephanie Stassel | Times Staff Writer

The absence of cold, wet ice prompted Daria Artem to bring her two young nieces and nephew to the Ice Magic Skating Rink, where they escaped the rain for a couple of hours Friday.

She called the 5,000-square-foot rink -- in the southeast corner of a parking lot at Westfield Shoppingtown Topanga in Canoga Park -- a family-friendly place.

If the children fall down, no need to worry about their getting damp. If any rambunctious skaters show up, no need to be concerned about those deliberate quick stops that spray ice all over the place.

Instead of ice, they were skating on high-density polyethylene that doesn't need to be chilled and costs less to maintain than temporary skating rinks made of real ice, such as those at Universal CityWalk and downtown's Pershing Square.

"It's not as slippery as ice, so it's not as dangerous. It's not cold, so your toes don't freeze," said Artem, who lives 10 minutes away in Bell Canyon. "It's an amenity that we appreciate."

What most parents and children seemed to love, experienced skaters seemed to detest.

"I brought my kids here because the sign said 'ice rink.' They should call it a 'plastic rink,' " said Audrey Israel of Tarzana, who said she had taken ice-skating lessons as a child.

It's not the surface as much as the type of skate that bothers some patrons, said marketing director Alexis Foy, an ice skater for 26 years who gives private lessons at the faux ice rink and an authentic ice rink in Van Nuys.

Traditional figure skates aren't permitted on the Ice Magic rink because the toe picks would cut into the surface. Skaters may bring their own ice hockey-style skates, which don't have toe picks, or rent skates that have figure-skating blades mounted on something resembling ski boots. (Admission is $7 for a two-hour session before 6:30 p.m., $12 for each session after 6:30 p.m. Skate rental is $3.)

Laura and Larry Cohen of West Hills planned to skate for about an hour with their 8-year-old daughter Rachael early Friday afternoon. Although the three enjoyed the experience, Laura and Rachael were pulling off their skates after 20 minutes, saying their feet were hurting.

"I'd be willing to try it again," Laura Cohen said. "Maybe next time I'll wear different socks."

Ice Magic's owner, Andrew Smith, said he has to close the Canoga Park rink by Monday and is looking for other places to operate temporarily. He also is considering several locations, including Palmdale, to build a permanent faux ice-skating rink.

"We're not trying to be ice," Smith said. "Ours is much easier to learn on."

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