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News brief with The Colorado Sun: The beauty and danger of skating on wild ice

Skaters pass a spot of thin ice marked by branches on a frozen canal with tree-lined banks on either side.
Peter Dejong
/
AP
Skaters pass a spot of thin ice marked by branches on a frozen canal near Nieuweschoot, northern Netherlands, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. While Coloradans may not be quite as accustomed to wild ice skating as the Dutch, the sport appears to be gaining popularity in the state.

Every Tuesday, we talk with our colleagues at the Colorado Sun about the stories they're following.

This week, we're talking about skating on naturally-occuring or "wild" ice, such as frozen lakes. A Colorado womanhas gone viral on Instagram and TikTok because of it, and the sport is becoming more widely accepted at Colorado parks.

Jennifer Brown is a co-founder and reporter at The Colorado Sun. She recently reported on wild ice skating and said it took a few attempts to coordinate a meetup with Laura Kottlowski, since wild ice tends to be fleeting.

"You've got to catch it when it's, you know, obviously frozen," Brown said of the search for wild ice.

Wild ice for skating should be "thick enough to be safe and not have snow all over the top of it," Brown said. The conditions should make for "a fairly decent hiking day in winter."

Before skating on wild ice, Kottlowski recommends appropriate snow attire, as well as safety gear such as life vests and ice picks in case of a break in the ice. Sometimes, even specialty skates might be needed.

Brown wanted to meet up with Kottlowski because of her social media fame and resulting ice safety awareness work. After losing a friend who fell through ice while skating on Stampede Reservoir near Truckee, California, Kottlowski made it a mission to educate others about the possible dangers of wild ice and how to stay safe.

Kottlowski's wild ice guidance may get more attention as wild ice skating becomes more widely accepted at Colorado parks.

Brown said Eleven Mile State Park has an ice ranger now.

"She's on ice skates. She's a park ranger who makes sure it's safe and checks on people," Brown said.

Brown said the newfound popularity of wild ice skating is an indicator that Coloradans want to find new ways to enjoy the outdoors.

As a reporter and Morning Edition host for KUNC, I follow the local stories of the day while also guiding KUNC listeners through NPR's wider-scope coverage. It's an honor and a privilege to help our audience start their day informed and entertained.
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