Let the games begin - and not just in Vancouver. During and after the Winter Games, local rinks from Great Neck to Greenport will be filled with figure skaters, speedskaters, hockey players and ice dancers. If there's snow, you can watch - or try - snowboarding at Bethpage State Park. There's even a chance later this month to learn the Olympic sport of curling.
Here's where to find the thrills, throw the stone and catch the spirit.
ICE DANCING, FIGURE SKATING
When: 7:45-9:45 a.m. Sundays (ice dancing only 4:45-6:45 p.m. Sundays); figure skating only 6:30-8 p.m. Mondays and 5:45-8:15 p.m. Wednesdays
Admission: Free for spectators
What better place to watch jumps and spins than the recently renovated rink, where past figure-skating Olympians Emily and Sarah Hughes of Great Neck trained - and reigned. It's also home to the Great Neck Figure Skating Club, a member of United States Figure Skating Association. A number of other world champions in ice dance and figure skating have been members, says club president Cindy Zubli of Great Neck. Spectators can watch "skaters as young as 5 years old [who] are getting ready to make it to the regionals or nationals of figure skating in hopes of being a competitive skater," she adds.
CANTIAGUE PARK: West John Street east of Cantiague Rock Road, Hicksville, 516-571-7056
When: 10 a.m.-noon Fridays
In the fast-paced sport immortalized by five-time Olympic gold medalist Eric Heiden, local speedskaters hit the ice here every week. You can also watch ice hockey games and figure skating, or put on skates yourself for your own slap shots or figure eights. The gleaming county-run indoor facility, which was the New York Islanders' practice rink during the 1980s, has bleacher seating and a snack bar.
Snowboarders generally need to head upstate for a decent course, but there is at least one snowboard run on Long Island. When sufficient snow falls, one hill is opened for snowboarding, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Call after 7 a.m. for confirmation. It's free.
CURLING, ICE HOCKEY
GREENPORT PIRATES HOCKEY FEST: Noon-8 p.m. Feb. 27, Mitchell Park outdoor rink, Greenport, 631-477-1133
The day before the Winter Games' closing ceremonies, the Greenport Hockey Club will host a demonstration of curling, the Olympic sport in which teams use a broom (or brush) to sweep a stone down a sheet of ice. In the frozen north in Canada, it's almost a national pastime - but curling also has local devotees among the members of the Long Beach-based Long Island Curling Club. They'll let you try their sport for $1 a throw (noon-1:30 p.m.). After the curling demo, kids and adults from the Greenport Hockey Club will play a series of hockey games on the same rink until 8 p.m. It's free to watch.