Rinks of the Beltway

This is a list of rinks in the region in which we have skated, and my opinion on them.

SkateQuest in Reston, VA

Located in Reston, I consider SkateQuest our home rink. The rink feels more dated than other rinks in the region such as the ones in Ashburn and Ballston, but SkateQuest has the best hockey program in the region.

-Learn to Skate group lessons: Good quality instruction most of the time. Snowplow Sam level can sometimes have too many children, but for the most part its ok. The biggest disadvantage is that unlike other rinks the price doesn’t include public sessions, but practice times. Practice times are shorter (20-30 minutes) than public sessions and sometimes they only make half the ice available.

-Junior hockey group lessons: Excellent quality, they almost feel like power skating lessons. This sort of thing is surprisingly difficult to find in the region.

-Learn to Play Program: This is what puts Reston head and shoulders above the rest. The Reston Raiders have, in my opinion, the best learn to play program in the DMV, they have a very high emphasis on player development over everything else. Not that they don’t get great results (they do), but player development at all levels is their #1 priority. Nick Durso, the director of the Raiders’ learn to play program, might be the most knowledgeable youth coach I’ve met.

Ashburn Ice House in Ashburn, VA

The Ashburn Ice House is a very modern ice rink with probably the best ice in the region. They also have my favorite drop-in session for young skaters, which they call Playground on Ice. This is a session in which only kids under 8 are allowed (and their chaperones), its a freestyle session (not restricted to the circular skating of public sessions) in which kids can play with toys on ice. This includes rubber duckies, hockey sticks with rubber hockey pucks (you can bring your own stick, making it a golden opportunity to introduce your child to stickhandling), etc. Playgrounds on ice offer by far the most valuable ice-time for a young child learning to skate. I’m really surprised no other rinks offer this.

-Learn to Skate group lessons: Ashburn’s group lessons tend to be more crowded than SkateQuest and feel more disorganized. But their group lesson rate includes public sessions and is not restricted to the short practice times Reston offers, which is a big deal if you’re trying to maximize ice-time (which you should).

-Junior hockey group lessons: Not great, Reston’s are better. I don’t even know why they call it “junior hockey”, its just a modified version of the Basic LTS curriculum. Junior hockey 1 is a blend of Basic 1-2 and Junior Hockey 2 is a blend of Basic 3-4. It doesn’t include the power skating elements that SkateQuest offers. And the child-to-instructor ratio is bad.

-Learn to Play Program: The Ashburn Xtreme are known for running a rutheless operation. Very high quality, but might be more suitable for highly competitive players. Their Mini-Mites Skills Clinic is top-notch and requires a very advanced level of skating to even join. For the most part, joining Ashburn’s LTP programs requires a more advanced level of skating than other rinks nearby.