Are you planning to go ice skating this festive season? Well, you might be very pleased to know that you can do that right here in Nairobi on the second floor of the Panari Sky Centre along Mombasa road. They are calling it the Solar Ice Rink and it costs only KES. 700.00 at the time of writing for adults.

Opened in 2005, the Solar Ice Rink bills itself as the largest rink in Africa and the first ice skating rink in eastern and Central Africa. It covers 15,000 square feet (about 1,400 M2). The rink can accommodate up to 200 people and has on-site instructors in case you need help.

Being something new to this parts of the world, we figured you could do with a few handy ice skating tips to get you started courtesy of

1. Find Good Skates

Panari provides skates of their own at a fee but if you are looking to buy your own then make sure they fit you comfortably. Skates are normally available in most shoe sizes. It’s a good idea to measure both feet as one foot can be bigger than the other. Also, measure the width of your foot while sitting down. There are a number of good brands you can buy, but rentals are adequate for your first steps.

2. Start by Trying to Walk

Most skate rinks have rubber matting you can walk on. Walk around to help maintain your centre of gravity but remember to keep your skate guards on. Walking around the edge of the rink while holding the wall will help you get a feel for the ice. The keys to skating well are relaxation and technique. Learning to walk will help give you ankle support and help you get used to the friction of the ice.

3. Maintain your Balance

Start by holding your arms out at just below shoulder level to learn to balance yourself. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward, not back. Try not to hold onto anything. The wall can become a crutch.

4. Do Squats

Stand up straight, feet at hip distance, and arms in front of you. Now, squat slightly, just enough to find your centre of balance and repeat a few times until you feel comfortable. When you are ready, try squatting further down, just until you feel your knees bending. Keep your eyes looking forward at all times.

5. Practice Falling

Strange as it sounds, falling is part of the sport so it’s natural that this will happen. If you anticipate the fall bend your knees and squat into a dip position. Otherwise, put your hands out to break your fall but quickly clench your fingers into a fist so that you don’t run the risk of losing any fingers from a passing skater. Also, try to push your arms out so you will have a safer fall.

6. Practice Standing Up

Get on your hands and knees and place one foot between your hands. Repeat with your other foot and lift up until you are standing again.

7. Move Forward

Lean on your weak foot, then push in a diagonal direction outwards with your strong foot. Pretend as though you’re shovelling snow behind and to the right of you. This will propel you forward. Then bring the right foot back in next to the left and repeat the process. If you would like to glide, point the toes out the way they are in for example right foot, point your right toes out. Now just make little loops with your foot or ride on an imaginary scooter that is on the ice.

8. Take Longer Strokes and Try to Glide

If you try to give an extra flick of the toe/ankle at the end of each stroke, you will get more power and become a more efficient and faster skater. Bend your knees and move your body with the strokes.

9. Learn to Stop

To stop, place one skate behind you with the toe facing away from you and gently drag it behind until you come to a halt. When you do this, your balance will be put on one foot only, so practice skating on one foot to perfect this technique or turn around with one foot in the same place and get your other foot and twist it in a circle.

Did these tips help you? Let us know, including any additional ideas you may want to share to make someone’s ice skating experience enjoyable, by commenting below. Enjoy your skating!