For adult figure skater and fitness industry veteran Sasha Meshkov, Cathedral City's Desert Ice Castle provides a mesh of new exercise and realized girlhood dreams.
"People need to know about the Desert Ice Castle, especially when it's eight million degrees out here in the summer," said Meshkov of Palm Springs. "This is a wonderful rink and everybody here is super-nice; it's very reasonably priced and with great coaches. And skating is an amazing form of exercise for balance and to use all the muscle groups."
With Coachella Valley temps eclipsing the century mark, the full-sized, indoor rink at Desert Ice Castle professes "The Coolest Fun in the Desert." Since opening its doors in 2011, the Ice Castle has enjoyed a regular rise of participants taking advantage of the only rink within an 80-minute drive of the desert. Meshkov heard opportunity knocking.
"I popped in one day and asked one of the coaches if they would coach somebody like me who hadn’t been on the ice in many, many moons," Meshkov recalled. "They said, 'Of course!'"
While seasonal Canadian visitors are readily wont to enjoy the familiar surface of their homeland, the rink is concurrently mixing the popularity of locals with guests driving in from Banning, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Thermal.
"It has spread a lot by word-of-mouth," said Jennifer Gonzalez, manager's assistant at Desert Ice Castle. "We've seen a steady increase."
Open daily and offering a bevy of programs for skaters of all levels, Desert Ice Castle welcomes guests ranging from Olympic participants to competitive hockey players to the most nascent of rink rats.
Among the most popular activities are the Ice Castle's youth and adult hockey programs, their Beginner Skate and an array of students that take advantage of the rink's impressive (if not shocking) cache of figure skating instructors.
"We also have a lot of professional figure skaters that come here to train," Gonzalez said.
To wit: The southern California desert is not the first place one would imagine finding freestyle and jump technique coach Frank Carroll, a medalist in three U.S. National Championships and the first and only figure skating coach to be recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee as "Coach of the Year." Carroll's past students include Olympic medalists Michelle Kwan and Evan Lysacek (who is known to glide upon the local rink on occasion).
Now a regular visitor and figure skating student, Meshkov revels in the chance to work with Carroll.
"When I learned that Frank Carroll was at the rink I thought it was a gift from the heavens," Meshkov said. "A few months ago, I asked him if he would consider coaching me and he said he would. And now I feel like a childhood dream has come true."
And for those driven toward pucks instead of a triple lutz, the six-team Adult Hockey League spring season began in late April with the ensuing summer campaign scheduled for a June start.
"And we offer the 'Drop-In' for players that can't be here the entire season, but still want to play," Gonzalez said.
The non-contact hockey league (don't drop the gloves) is host to "A" and "B" levels to maintain competitive balance and welcomes both men and women into league play.
"It can get a little rowdy," laughed Gonzalez. "But that's what the ref is for."
To chill out amid the burgeoning temps, visit www.deserticecastle.com or phone (760) 324-0400 for a full schedule of Desert Ice Castle programs and activities.