The stories of haunted places around the world are too plentiful to ignore. Whatever your spiritual beliefs, there is no denying that there is more to this world than meets the eye. Fascinatingly, the world's ghost stories do not leave the skating world untouched. Let's take a look at five fascinating stories that tell the stories of ghosts of the ice, from ghostly figures to haunted rinks to the mansion of a former Olympic champion, I've got you covered:
JANET AND ROSETTA VAN DER VOORT
The Wollman Ice Rink/Central Park Pond at the southeast corner of the New Park, near 59th Street, was one of the few places that Janet and Rosetta Van Der Voort, the daughters of an overprotective wealthy helicopter pilot, were allowed to leave their home unaccompanied. The 19th century sisters lived in a brownstone mansion 14th Street just off of Fifth Avenue in Central Park South and were known to spend hours skating figure eights on the frozen pond every winter. They had no friends or close relatives and died within months of each other in 1880. "The sisters grew so close as they grew older that they spurned all potential suitors, dying as spinsters," reported a 1997 New York Times article. "But, as legend has it, the Van Der Voort sisters, decked out in the same red and purple outfits they wore more than 100 years ago, sometimes return to the pond to figure-skate, in the summer as well as the winter, haunting parents on Central Park South who continue to keep their daughters prisoner." Another variation of the story has the sisters skating in another part of the park. "Their ghosts were first spotted during World War I skating side by side on the frozen lake in Central Park," wrote Dennis William Huack in his book Haunted Places. "They were both dressed in huge bustles: one in a red dress, the other in a purple dress. The skating ghosts have been seen many times since, their silver skates gliding just above the ice in a never-ending series of figure eights." Many others believe that the story is an urban legend. Folklorist Libby Taylor wrote, "There's just one problem with this story. Wollman Rink was built in 1949, not the 1800's". That's not to say that the sisters didn't skate in Central Park during their lifetimes. After all, if you love skating enough you'll take ice time where you can get it.
MILFORD SKATING CENTER
Since opening its doors in 1982, Milford Skating Center in Milford, Delaware has employed dozens and played host to countless skaters. According the rink's owner Carmen Kemper, Skates at the rental counter tumble off of their racks ad land right side up on the counter several feet away. Cold spots plague the rink's DJ booth and music blares even when the P.A. system is turned off. A popular DJ manned the booth before dying unexpectedly. Rick Coherd and his team at Delmarva Historical Haunts investigated the site, using tools such a EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) and EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) meters and infrared cameras. In his investigation, Coherd's team revealed that "they observed some paranormal activity including unexplained sounds of movement, strange activity with electronic devices and even recognized voices". Is this young DJ the ghost of Milford Skating Center or is it someone else? Prior to being opened as a skating center by Charles Wahleg in 1982, the site was once a pharmacy and automotive shop dating back to the 19th century.
SERGEI GRINKOV AND THE LAKE PLACID CENTER
They called it "The Miracle On Ice" when the 1980 U.S. hockey team defeated the Soviet team at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, New York, but in November 1995, 2 time Olympic Gold Medallist Sergei Grinkov passed away of a heart attack in the very same building while practicing for that year's Stars On Ice tour with his beloved wife and skating partner Ekaterina Gordeeva. According to local accounts, ever since Grinkov's tragic death many skaters claim to feel Sergei's presence in the rink where he passed away, especially early in the morning or late at night. There isn't much more here to substantiate this "feeling" than hearsay, however. In her book My Sergei, Katia talks about a dream where Sergei visited her. "The next day, I felt much better having told my mother about the dream, and I was smiling all day. It was February 4, Sergei's birthday, and it was like he didn't want me to be sad on his birthday. Before this dream, I'd blamed myself for his death, but afterward, it was like Sergei had told me, 'This is what I wanted, so leave me. Release me." The overwhelming release of emotion left in that space when Ekaterina skated alone for the first time in Sergei's Celebration Of A Life show with his family and friends present most certainly was that release and had to have imprinted that space with its pure love, beauty and sense of home on the ice and may leave skaters visiting with the feeling of a presence.
In Benton, Pennsylvania, what is now Ricketts Glen State Park doesn't just play host to old-growth forest and rushing waterfalls. Ghost stories are abundant in the locale. The Susquehannock people who once inhabited the area told tales of evil spirits who roamed the nearby Sheshequin Path. A boy on the property met a tragic death when the tree he was chopping at a lumber company suddenly toppled on him and a white tree that never produced any leaves grew on the spot of the tragedy's place. Nothing supposedly was ever able to grow near this "ghost tree". The ghost tree story never deterred a young family who were staying in a lakeside cabin, who looked on their young son went out on the ice on Lake Jean to test out his new skates, which he'd received as a Christmas gift. They rushed to his rescue and both parents and the young son all perished in the freezing lake waters. Urban legend has it that if you go out on the lake where they fell through the ice, you might catch a glimpse of them looking out at you through the water. According to locals, strange lights can also be seen on the lake and whispers can be heard in the wind.
THE GHOST OF SONJA HENIE?
Photo courtesy Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, UCLA Library. Copyright Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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