Olympic-style sports on Long Island
There's a bit of Olympic fever in the air -- but there's no need to travel to Sochi, Russia, to see athletes compete. There are places here -- near and on Long Island -- where you can see the same events or even try a sport on for size.
Olympic figure skaters fresh from the Winter Games will take to the ice on Long Island in a national production that includes many other world champions.
Started in 1987 by Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton, the show has all the fashion and top-notch skating of the world games -- but no competition.
"There is something truly unique and thrilling about seeing your country's Olympians in person, and seeing that level of skating live is the way it should be seen," says Hamilton.
Among the skaters joining the tour this year are 2014 Olympians Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold and ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
WHEN | WHERE 4 p.m. April 13, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale
INFO 800-745-3000, starsonice.com
Curling, where athletes in teams of four, slide -- or curl -- a 42-pound stone down the ice to a target on the other side. There's a club right here in Bellmore.
The Long Island Curling Club plays on Saturday nights, and the members are happy to have spectators drop by. "There's bleachers, since it's a hockey arena," says Dave Tumminello. "We would love them to come and watch."
And if spectators catch the curling bug, the club is having some open houses where they can try the sport themselves; 7-9:45 p.m. March 1 and 8:30-11:45 p.m. March 15 at the rink (online reservations required).
WHEN | WHERE 10 p.m. Saturdays, Newbridge Arena, 2600 Newbridge Rd., Bellmore
INFO 516-855-8226, licurling.org
ADMISSION None for spectators ($10 open house)
A favorite sport of the Winter Olympics, Long Islanders can see some speed skaters practice right over the Nassau border.
While games are held in Hartford, Conn., spectators are encouraged to watch the skaters as they whisk along the track at lightning speeds during their twice-weekly practices.
The club can even lend you skates to give it a try if you get there early enough.
"We'll show them the tricks and walk them through the basics," says Glenn Corso, Flushing Meadows Speed Skating Club president.
WHEN | WHERE 8:30-9:50 p.m. Mondays and 7-8:20 p.m. Thursdays. Flushing Meadows Aquatic Center, Avery Avenue and 131st Street (parking under the Van Wyck Expressway)
INFO 516-671-5526 (after 5 p.m.); speedskating.ws
COST Free to watch, costs to join vary ($3 for first-timers).
Sure, there are the Islanders and Rangers, but there also are collegiate hockey games happening now where spectators can get the thrill of the amateur side of the sport.
Take note: Amateur doesn't necessarily mean less exciting. The Stony Brook Seawolves are an American Collegiate Hockey Association Division One team and ranked sixth in the country, says coach Chris Garofalo.
Since Stony Brook University doesn't have an arena on campus, the team plays at The Rinx in Hauppauge, where there are stands and a snack bar.
"We're getting more and more fans to come out," says team captain Wes Hawkins, 24. "This year more than any other year."
Farmingdale State College also has a hockey team, but it has completed its home schedule for the year.
WHERE | WHEN Next games: 8:30 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, 660 Terry Rd., Hauppauge
OK, so it's not a spectator sport, but there are parks and other places where you can try it out for yourself.
Quogue Wildlife Preserve rents boots, poles and skis for a mere $5 (adult sizes only, first come, first served, so call ahead) that will take you along 7 miles of trails when there's enough snow on the ground. It's open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends.
According to the Long Island Cross Country Ski Club, Nassau and Suffolk have some great public places to cross-country ski: Muttontown Preserve in Muttontown, Bethpage State Park and Connetquot River State Park Preserve in Oakdale.
If you don't have your own gear, REI in Glen Cove rents cross-country skis (boots, bindings and poles included) for $50 a day, $10 each additional day.