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Freeze!

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Let me get this straight. To beat the heat, you go to Fire—Fire?!—Island and lie in the sun. You may take a dip or two, sure, but then you dry on your towel like hot pasta in a colander, while trying to look good enough to attract someone with central air conditioning.

Not me. I’ll take my water frozen, thanks, and not Italian ice—the kind you skate on, say during summer hours at Chelsea Piers, the only rink in the five boroughs that stays frozen year-round (212-336-6100). General skating, normally $12.50, is free on Saturdays in July and August from 2 to 4 p.m. Skate and helmet rental ($5.75, $3) are not included; nor is hot chocolate.

“In the summer people come in in shorts and T-shirts, carrying mittens and earmuffs,” says Chelsea Piers’ vice-president of corporate communications, Erica Schietinger, who drops by the rink for lunch when the mercury climbs. The indoor temp may dip to 55 low-humidity degrees, but never tops 65. Ideal conditions, if you ask me.

Granted, I am one of those Winter People. I grudgingly accept the icky-sticky city summer as some sort of divine doctor’s order to lower my odds of killing myself snowboarding. I am a founding member of the ten-year-old Brooklyn Blades, New York City’s women’s ice-hockey team. I went dog-sledding and camping in northern Minnesota in December, on purpose, not as part of some sort of youth-offender rehabilitation program.

But still. There is something everyone can enjoy about Hans Brinkering out for one doggy day, something about playing cold when you know you won’t be staying cold. If you do seek more adventure than dodging careening children, Sky Rink also offers open hockey, house league hockey, and hockey and figure-skating instruction, at all levels, throughout the summer.

Or if your idea of adventure is leaving Manhattan, you can break a nice cold sweat at the easily-driven-to Ice Hutch in Mount Vernon, New York (914-699-6787) or the Ice House in Hackensack, New Jersey (201-487-8444).

Three skating rinks can’t be wrong. But if your sunburned arm still needs twisting, think of it this way: Most rinks are cooled by pipes carrying a calcium-chloride antifreeze called brine water, all on a base layer of sand. See? It’s not that different from the beach.


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