The 2018 Winter Olympics begin this week, and the Hamilton Community Center and Ice Arena is doing it’s part in getting the city of Columbus in the mood to watch the games.

The Hamilton Center will be hosting a free Basic Figure Skating Skills Clinic, a free Learn to Play Hockey Clinic and a discounted Olympics opening ceremony skating event in honor of the Olympic games that begin Friday and end Feb. 25.

Registration for the clinics is on a walk-in basis.

The figure skating clinic started Thursday and will continue every Thursday from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. until Feb. 22. The Learn to Play Hockey Clinic is every Wednesday from 6:45 to 8 p.m. and will remain free for the month of February for ages 4 to 10 years old. The original $5 admission price is voided for the entire month.

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Ages for the figure skating clinic begin at the Hamilton Center’s tots classes up to its novice club members, which usually are around ages 11 to 13. Katie Baxter, Liz Fernandes and Heather Lehnert are the three instructors that will be running the skills clinic.

“It is just a session to improve their skills — so any basic element of skating, crossovers, jumps, spins, that kind of stuff,” Hamilton Center customer service specialist Lauren Luhn said. “It’s geared toward what they need, so a tot isn’t going to need lessons done like spins and jumps. They’re just going to need to work on things like balance.”

The Learn to Play Hockey Clinic will be headed by Columbus hockey coach Eric Howe, who runs the clinic year-round. All of the equipment is provided, and kids who do not know how to skate can learn during the clinic. Some of the basic skills Howe and his staff teach the athletes are how to fall properly, how to get up and how to do superman dives when trying to slide across the ice.

“By putting the equipment on them when they fall, it usually doesn’t hurt,” Howe said. “It builds their confidence and gets them out there skating around, interacting with all the kids a lot faster. What used to take a year of three different levels of classes, we now can do in weeks by putting kids in equipment, building their confidence and getting them to be a part of our program.”

Friday’s Olympic skate-off on the night of the opening ceremony is from 7 to 9 p.m. The price to skate is $2 for kids and $2.50 for adults, plus a $2 skate rental. There will be Olympic themed games and a podium with a balloon arch photo for kids to stand on and get their pictures taken.

Luhn said the upcoming Winter Olympics is a good opportunity for Hamilton Center to take advantage of showing the Columbus community what it has to offer, including the Chuck Wilt Scholarship for low-income families who may not be able to afford the expenses of participating in figure skating and hockey throughout the year. The scholarship is named after Wilt, who is a retired Parks and Recreation director.

“Hopefully we can promote that a little bit more too and get more kids involved in our community,” Luhn said.

Skating on ice

Basic Figure Skating Skills Clinic

When: 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. every Thursday through Feb. 22.

Where: Hamilton Community Center and Ice Arena

Price: Free

Learn to Play Hockey Clinic 

When: 6:45 tp 8 p.m. every Wednesday in February.

Where: Hamilton Community Center and Ice Arena

Price: Free the the month of February; $5 regular admission price starting in March

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5632.