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CHRIS ERSKINE / FAN OF THE HOUSE

Taking a little early spin on the Dodger Stadium ice

The columnist survives an encounter with the hockey rink at Dodger Stadium, and the rink survives as well.

January 23, 2014|Chris Erskine

Greetings from Chavez Pond.

It's a little unsettling what they've done to the old ball yard — iced it over, cleavered the back end off the pitching mound, painted the NHL logo in center field. Feels like some sort of Canadian coup.

There's a stage now over home plate, and a regulation rink sits in the middle of it all like a big frosty keg, chemicals coursing through its arteries.

Hell hath not yet frozen over, but Blue Heaven sure has.

On this warmest of winters, Chavez Pond really ought to be filled with beer. On Saturday, at least the fans will be.

Took a spin around the rink the other night, in the first test of this new ice. I put on my old Bauer hockey skates, dormant since high school, and a little puff of dust rose when I tugged the laces. I love a metaphor you can actually inhale.

How's the ice? Mostly good, a little slippery for my taste, but consistent and not too slurry.

The rink did soften up toward the end of my 45-minute stint. I attribute that to my crushing style of skating, an intense pounding akin to a Katy Perry song. Light on my feet? No.

In fact, cross a Zamboni with a snow blower with an orangutan, and aside from the oddest threesome outside of Paris, you also have a sense of my robust skating style.

I move across the ice like a storm front dropping down from Duluth, occasionally glancing off the boards in a re-creation of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. A little manic, a little splashy, a little whoa ... Whoa ... WHOOOOOOA!

At least the boards will stand up to insanely heavy impact. Think I blew an eardrum.

"Look, I know I'm technically solid," I tell a bunch of kids, "but do you see anything I can improve on?"

"Everything," pipes up Rob Blake's son.

"Bend your knees," suggests another.

That seemed a little petty, considering the majesty that I bring to the rink. Like telling Rembrandt that maybe if he just held the brush a bit tighter....

Once the legs warmed a little, I attempted a double Kerrigan ("Why me? Why me?"), then a triple salchow (with cheese, hold the pickles).

"Salchow" has always been one of skating's greatest terms. To this day, I'm still not even sure what one is. A type of cattle, probably. As in, "Waiter, how's the salchow this evening? Grass-fed? Does it come with a potato?"

Everything should come with a potato.

Anyway, I'm left with the sense that hockey may not be enough for Dodger Stadium, that they should hold the entire Winter Olympics here — the luge, the biathlon, Bob Costas. Evidently, a sense of corruption attracts the IOC, and we have our share of that in L.A. In fact, I'll put our city's corruption up against anyone's any day.

So that's my take on L.A.'s newest ice rink. I think you'll like it Saturday night, whether you're playing or merely watching.

Watching will be the trickier of the two. My prediction is that those in the top deck will mostly be following the game on the big screen while wondering if there's a puck involved somewhere. Even those in the field level seats closest to the rink are going to be gazing up at the TV feed.

Here's why: After Wednesday's media hockey match, which included such vaunted journalists as Cuba Gooding Jr. and Alan Thicke, the rink's plexiglas steamed up as if smeared with Vaseline. Blame the rising humidity, and the heat differential inside and outside the rink. The blond in the black yoga pants only compounded the situation.

Anyway, if you're going Saturday, loge level would seem the best perch.

In any case, I always see the plexiglas as half full. I think the whole evening will be a quirky, odd, whimsical success.

Judging from my skate-around, just the unusual sound of skates on ice reverberating through these hallowed halls brings a bit of freshness to the event. Add in Dodger Dogs, beach volleyball (with Phil Dalhausser and Kerri Walsh) and the dulcet tones of the rock band KISS, and you have the makings of a once-in-a-lifetime sports spectacle.

Overpriced? Overproduced? Over the top? Sure.

Welcome to Dodger hockey, Los Angeles. You can only over-live once.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

Twitter: @erskinetimes

rskine@latimes.com">chris.erskine@latimes.com

Twitter: @erskinetimes

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