So you just got ice skates for Christmas and you're ready to give them a try. Good idea, but before you go too crazy, just remember that even Michelle Kwan and Wayne Gretzy were beginners at one time. Still it would be nice to progress from shuffling along the outside wall to gliding around the ice rink. Wouldn't it?

With some simple pointers it's not hard to keep from falling too much and move on to skating.

Those skinny skate blades can prove tricky to balance on. When teaching children to ice skate, Lisa Skaudahl, a figure skater who taught ice skating in the Tri-Cities, said she had them march around the lobby wearing their skates.

"So when they go on the ice they have the feel of balancing on the blades," she said.

Skaudahl also advised making sure the boot of the ice skate is laced up tightly around the ankles. That helps keep the ankles straight.

Jane Jones, a group lesson instructor at the Ice Chalet in Walla Walla, suggested a standing position similar to the position used while skiing: back straight and knees bent slightly.

"The biggest thing about learning to skate is keeping your arms forward and still," Jones said.

Throwing your arms around shifts balance and can make beginning skaters more likely to fall.

So the skates are laced tight and you're getting the hang of walking around in blades. Now, how do you use that to move around on the ice?

Skaudahl suggests using a "forward swizzle" to skate around. "It's an hourglass pattern, move your skates from heel to toe to go forward."

To turn a corner, Jones recommended leaning slightly to the inside of the turn and pushing with the outside skate.

Both Skaudahl and Jones said the easiest way to stop was the snow plow. "Wedge your toes together and lowly put pressure on the ice pushing out," Skaudahl said.

Other ways to stop include the hockey stop and "T" stop.

In a hockey stop, your body keeps facing forward while your skates turn to the side quickly digging into the ice.

"It is a little more advance stop," Jones said.

A "T" stop is done by dragging one foot behind and perpendicular to the other so they form a "T." "The snow plow is a little easier to do," she advised.

Even the best skaters fall sometimes, but there is a correct way to fall and get back up.

"The correct way to fall is like sitting, you don't use your hands when falling," Skaudahl said.

To get back up, Jones said to rise to your knees and place one foot up then the other.

Good luck!

Pendleton ice rink

The Pendleton Ice Skating Rink in Roy Raley Park is open until the last weekend of February.

n Costs are $2 for admission with skate rentals or $1.50 for admission only.

n Family skate is 5-8 p.m. every Thursday. Families receive a special rate of $10 per family, which includes admission and skate rentals along with organized games and prizes.

Times:

Open Skate

• December and January: 2:30-7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

• February: 4-7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

• Weekends: noon to 7 p.m. all season.

More info:

• Contact the Parks and Recreation Office weekdays at 276-8100 for information on group rates or to schedule private parties.

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