Frequently Asked Questions

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Basics About The Program

What is the Learn to Skate program?

Our Basic Skills program is "ranked top 20 in the Nation" by US Figure Skating Magazine and endorsed by USA Hockey. Our carefully planned levels allow the beginning skater to feel comfortable on the ice while learning correct skating technique. We offer classes year round at our home, the beautiful Northtown Ice Center, a well-lit four-pad facility with superb ice surfaces and great sound systems. The Northtown Ice Center is conveniently located off Maple Road by UB. Our Learn to Skate / Skate With U.S. program offers group classes for preschool children, basic skating, figure skating, hockey skills and adults. Everyone from 3 1/2 to 99 can enjoy the health benefits skating has to offer. Skaters will improve their physical and mental health, self-esteem, and self-confidence. Ice Skating develops good posture and motor coordination. It's a wonderful way for children and adults to have fun and stay fit.


How long is the class?

Classes are 50 minutes long and consist of 25 minutes of instruction and 25 minutes of supervised practice time. Generally, beginner skaters will have their lesson during the first 25 minutes followed by practice while higher level skaters will practice first and have their lesson in the last 25 minutes. Shining Stars classes are 1 full hour.


Who teaches the class?

An experienced and highly qualified professional ice skating instructor. At times, they are assisted by a Junior Club coach when needed.


What age does the program start at? End at?

We take children starting at 3. This restriction is not due to ability but is because of readiness. The child needs to be able to be on the ice without a parent, be able to pay attention in class and so forth. The program runs under the guidelines of US Figure Skating and therefore, we must strictly enforce this. Group skating lessons in this program are offered to adults of all ages.


Does your program take beginner skaters that have never skated before?

Of course we do! We're here to teach you to skate, and all levels of skaters are welcome.


Can I/Do I skate with my child?

No. No parent or sibling is allowed on the ice. You should, however, stay at the Northtown Center at Amherst during the class in case of emergency.


What is the difference between Snowplow Sam and Basic 1 through 8? If my child is 4 or 5 and is eligible to skate in either as far as age is concerned, which one should I put him/her in?

There really isn't much of a difference in skills. Snowplow Sam is more geared towards preschool age, however, if your child is 4 or 5 where they are eligible to skate in either program, it is up to you which one you choose. The Snowplow Sam during the day on weekdays are typically less crowded than other sessions.


When do you offer Hockey lessons?

Hockey is offered every learn to skate season, with classes focusing on skating skills.


What do they need for the Hockey lessons?

The skater needs the same things as anyone else enrolled in the Learn to Skate program. There is no hockey equipment (i.e. sticks etc) used in the lessons. They are only working on the skating skills needed to be able to play hockey.


What do you recommend if the Hockey time doesn't work for me or isn't offered the season we're skating?

The "Basic" and "Hockey" classes essentially focus on the same skills and elements at the beginning levels, as they both are working on the very basics of skating. It isn't until the next level up that Hockey starts to be more concentrated on "Hockey" and "Basic" starts to move into more figure skating. You could certainly enroll in "Basic 1" and move to "Hockey" the following season


How do I register?

Visit the "Learn to Skate" page of the website: Hard copy applications are available on our website at on the "Learn to Skate" page and also in the tray outside the Club office. Complete your paper application and either mail it in with a check or money order (Amherst Skating Club, Attn: Learn to Skate Program, 1615 Amherst Manor Dr., Williamsville NY 14221) or bring it in to the office during regular office hours where you can also pay by MasterCard, Visa or Discover. We now also accept the Independent Health FlexFit Family or personalBest MasterCard. Your application cannot be submitted or over the phone or by fax.


When is payment due? What payment methods are accepted?

Payment is due in full at the time of registration.


  • If mailing in your application, please send a check or money order.
  • If applying in person at the club office, you may pay with check, money order, cash, MasterCard, Visa, Discover or Independent Health FlexFit Family or personalBest! MasterCard.


How much does it cost?

Costs vary by season, residency and the class chosen. Typically, summer is 6 weeks, spring is 8 weeks, fall and winter are 10 weeks each. Please refer to the current application for rates.

There is no discount for having multiple children enrolled. In order to receive resident rates, you must provide a copy of the skater's current town ID card. The application fee includes a USFS registration fee.


Do I need to write a separate check for each skater?

No, you can write one check for all of the applications you are submitting.


Since the Northtown Ice Center is a town facility, what residency restrictions apply?

Some sessions may be indicated on the application as resident only. Resident and Non-Resident also have different fees. Please note that in order to skate on a resident only session or pay the resident rates, it is required that the skater provide a resident ID number and/or a copy of the resident ID card. A resident ID card can be obtained through the Amherst Recreation Department. For information on the required documentation, fees and application process, please contact the Rec Department directly at 631-7555. 


Besides payment, what do I need to register?

Amherst residents that would like to pay the reduced resident rates or skate on a resident only session must fill in the skater's current Town ID number on the application. Residents without the ID card cannot skate on a resident only session and must pay the non-resident fees. A drivers license or utility bill is not acceptable proof of residency.


How do I know what session to choose when I don't know what level the skater is?

First, choose the time and day that works for you. If your child has no formal skating lessons, please check badge 1. Once they can demonstrate the necessarily skills to move on, they will do so accordingly. If they have previous lessons elsewhere or you are unsure, leave the level blank and write a comment so that we can determine the level. If your child was previously enrolled in the program, please check the next level up from what was previously completed.


My kids are several years apart and yet I can sign them up for the same session? Will they be skating together? My child wants to skate with kids his/her own age.

Every effort is made to put the skaters into groups according to their age and level. The groups are typically around 10 - 12 skaters.


Can I request a specific instructor? Can I request that my child be placed in the same group with someone specific?

Unfortunately, due to the volume of participants in the program, we are unable to accommodate these types of requests.


We were previously enrolled. Do I still need to apply? Provide my town ID again?

Whether you've been in the program or not, the application process is the same. Your enrollment is not automatically renewed and you will still need to submit a completed application with payment.


Will I receive a confirmation?

If you submit a paper application and provided an email address, you will receive an email confirmation. Please be sure that your email address is legible. If you do not provide an email address, you will not receive a confirmation and you will only be contacted if you did NOT receive your requested class. ASC will not share your information with anyone. Please be aware that because our email address is not a gmail or yahoo type email address, sometimes the messages may be delivered to your junk folder.


Do people currently enrolled get first "dibs" on next season?

If we have your email address, we will send you the application via email as soon as it is available. This means that you will be among the first to know that you can begin registering for the upcoming season. Applications are taken on a first come first served basis so it is recommended that you register as early as possible.


Do I need to provide an email address on my application?

It is certainly not a requirement, however, doing so will allow us to provide a confirmation of your registration and provide other important information about your class. We will use your email address to advise you that registration has begun for upcoming seasons. We will not share your information with anyone

Getting Prepared For Classes

What should the skater wear?

Helmets are not required, but strongly recommended. We advise you to consider whether a well fitting helmet is appropriate for your child. A bike helmet will work just fine. No double runners (double bladed skates) are allowed. Skaters should dress in layers; sweaters, sweatshirts, jogging pants or fleece pants. Gloves are a must. We DO NOT recommend that skaters wear elbow pads, knee pads or snow pants. All of these are too bulky and restrict movement.


Do I have to have my own skates?

Yes, you must provide your own skates. Rental skates are available at the Northown Ice Center. Please contact the Northown Ice Center guest services for rental information (631-7555).


What happens after we are registered? Do we just show up on the first day? Where do we go?

Please plan on arriving about 20 minutes before the start time for the first week of class (possibly even earlier if you need to rent skates). Once you are acquainted, you may not need to arrive as early. You will check in on the first floor at the door of the rink, get a name tag and find out where to go. To find out what rink the session is on, visit the Learn to Skate page of our website. You can also check with guest services, the television monitors near guest services or check the schedule that is on our bulletin board on the wall to the side of the stairs. Please be aware that although this is the rink we expect to have each week, the facility may bump us to another rink.


Where should parents go during the class?

Parents should take advantage of the seating around the rink. (All seating is on the first floor with the exception of the Olympic Rink where you will need to go to the second floor). At no time during class should parents be in the hockey boxes or near the door where skaters are coming on and off the ice. During both the lesson and the practice time, it is imperative that parents allow their children to participate without being distracted. Parents should not enter the ice or be up against the glass. Not only does it detract from the time on the ice but it can also pose a danger for the child because they can lose focus.

After Enrollment

We are going to have to miss a session. Can we make it up? Do you Pro-Rate fees if we miss the first class?

Due to the volume of people in the program, we are unable to do make up sessions. It is especially important that you attend the first day since this is when group assignments are made. Please pick a class time that works with your schedule to avoid missing sessions. We cannot pro-rate your application either.


We originally signed up for one class but need to switch to another for the remainder of the season. Can we do that?

Maybe. Switches are based on availability in the class and are processed at the discretion of the program director. Please email with your request.


If my kids don't like it or we need to withdraw for any reason, can I get a refund?

If you feel like your child is hesitant at the first class, it is a good idea to discuss with your child's instructor and/or the director. We are sorry but there are NO REFUNDS unless you have a documented medical excuse. Each registration fee includes a $15 USFS Membership fee. USFS Membership fees cannot be refunded! If you have a concern please contact our office at 716-634-3887 or e-mail our director at 


Are classes ever canceled due to inclement weather or other reason?

Typically, we do not cancel our classes unless the Northtown Center closes which does not usually happen unless there is a power failure. In a situation of bad weather, please tune to Channels 2 (WGRZ) or 4 (WIVB).


What if we are interested in taking Private Lessons?

Private lessons offer skaters the opportunity to work one on one with a coach and allows them to master skills more quickly. It will help the skater complete the class program faster and with greater proficiency and teach them more advanced skills not taught in the group lessons. If you are interested in giving private lessons a try, please contact our office by phone or email at or 716-634-3887. You may also wish to read more about private lessons on our website.


What dates does the season run?

Please check the Learn to Skate page of the website for the dates of the current season.