Fast-paced sport for all
With ice skating rinks in major shopping centres around Hong Kong, many people are able to enjoy the challenge of staying upright as they negotiate their way around the rink.
For confident skaters, young and old, playing ice hockey can stretch their skills in a fast-paced, high intensity environment.
'We have children starting as young as four years old, and we have parents and volunteers who are still playing competitive hockey well into their 50s,' explains Dwayne Ripley, manager of the Hong Kong Typhoons Ice Hockey Club (www.hktyphoons.com).
'I have heard that in Canada, there are leagues for players who are 60 years old or older, and some players playing into their 80's.'
Ice hockey is played at three main rinks in Hong Kong - The Rink at Elements in West Kowloon, Mega Ice in Kowloon Bay and Sky Rink at the Dragon Centre in Sham Shui Po.
Beginners can enrol in elementary courses run by the rinks or courses run by one local clubs. Registered clubs can be found on the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association website (www.hkia.org).
The Typhoons is a not-for-profit club offering beginner courses for young children only. Its novice programme costs HK$165 per session, with the course made up of 24 sessions. Emphasis is placed on making sure children are having fun while learning basic skills. 'Everyone must learn how to skate, shoot and pass and learn the rules and positions for players. Adults and children are taught the same things when learning ice hockey,' Ripley says.
'People who need to improve their skating skills first should make sure they practice by using hockey skates as they are quite different to regular skates.' Mega Ice (www.megaice.com.hk) offers courses for adults and children that cater to different levels of skill and experience.
'We find that children need extra care from us and additional safety strategies compared to adults. We provide more detailed training of rules because children are always less sensitive to danger than adults. For the same reason, children are also generally much quicker to learn than adults as they do not have as much fear and move more freely,' says Summi Kwan, assistant business officer at Mega Ice.
Adult beginners can enrol in the Learning to hockey skate/hockey 1 course and progress through three higher-level courses, hockey 2, 3 and 4. The lower level courses cost HK$1,690 for nine, 45-minute sessions. Cost includes tuition and the rental of clothing and equipment.
Beginner classes cover balancing on ice, skating, moving forwards and backwards, stopping, turning and stick handling. Hockey 2, 3 and 4 teach aspects of team positioning, passing and shooting.