Skate Lake Colby added to Carnival lineup

John Dimon, of Human Power Planet Earth, instructs Griffin Kelly as he tests a pair of Nordic ice skates. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

SARANAC LAKE — Winter Carnival this year boasts a new event: Skate Lake Colby.

“I would say the most exciting new event that we have is called Skate Lake Colby,” said Colleen O’Neill, who handles publicity for the Winter Carnival Committee. “It’s sponsored by Adirondack Health.”

On Feb. 3 from noon until 5 p.m., Nordic skates, fat tire bikes and kick sleds will be available, courtesy of John Dimon from his bicycle shop Human Power Planet Earth, for carnival goers to take out over the frozen surface of Lake Colby. From 6 until 8 p.m., a night skate will be offered, with the same equipment available — all free.

“We’re going to have an ice path and we want people to bring their skates,” Dimon said. “We’re going to have free Nordic skates for people to try. So really it’s hopefully a demonstration of what a skating path could mean for Saranac Lake.”

Dimon, along with a group called Saranac Lake Skate Path, have been pushing to establish a skate path on Lake Colby since fall 2018.

“Adirondack Health jumped at the chance to sponsor Skate Lake Colby,” said Matt Scollin, Communications Director for Adirondack Health. “In addition to promoting a healthy, outdoor physical activity in what is essentially our front yard, this exciting new Winter Carnival event will also highlight the relentless beauty of a lake that Adirondack Health employees, patients and families have come to know and love. We can’t wait.”

The group has already received approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which has jurisdiction over the lake itself, along with the village of Saranac Lake which owns the parking lot and the town of Harrietstown that owns land near the lake.

O’Neill said Dimon approached the Winter Carnival Committee with the idea in September.

“So if anyone comes and wants to try Nordic skates,” Dimon said, “they go over the rougher ice easier. For those that don’t know how to skate — kick sleds are a great way to travel over the ice. It’s like kickin a skateboard. We had several people try it and say I don’t know how to skate but I can do this — I can get out with my friends and have fun on the lake.”

Kick sleds, popular in Scandinavian countries, are something like scooters with two bladed rails on the bottom to skate across the ice.

“I think it’s just going to be hugely popular especially because of the ice sports that most people are curious about,” O’Neill said. “I’ve never been on a kick sled — I want to try that too.”

Alongside a plowed skate path and free skate area, a snow-packed trail will be made for visitors to try out fat tire bikes.

“Some people are not interested in competition type events,” O’Neill said. “That’s why this new event is good too, because it’s more just testing things out. Having fun. Skating.”

Returning favorites, like the Ladies’ Fry Pan Toss and Arctic Golf, promise to draw some traffic as well.

“The ladies fry pan toss,” O’Neil said. “That’s always the first Saturday of carnival it’s very popular just because it’s something people haven’t seen before.”

O’Neill herself sponsors the Artic Golf mini-golf tournament, and is still looking for more business and groups to design obstacles. So far, she said she has four and is looking for nine.

“Most people didn’t know that you could play mini golf in winter in the snow,” O’Neill said. “And now we get community organizations and business to volunteer to build a hole — a golf hole.”

The Spike the Icicle Contest, while not available this year, may be available next year. The Pond Hockey Tournament has been canceled due to technical difficulties, according to Tuesday night’s Winter Carnival Meeting.

Another event will be returning this year almost a decade in hiatus — the Winter Carnival Ice Show. Figure skaters from the Tri-Lakes area, managed and directed by Amy Payton and Amanda Jones. Payton said she formed the group, Dancing in the Streets, as an off-shoot from the Tupper Lake Figure Skating Club.

“We brought skating back to Saranac Lake under another club,” Payton said.

She said the show will have group numbers with younger kids, and solos by the competitive figure skaters from the area.

The show will be at the Saranac Lake Civic Center on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m.

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