Despite the face-first spill that left him with a nasty bump above his right eye, Sergio Fernandez was hardly ready to hang up his skates.
"I don't care if I fall again. It's just a little pain," said the Chase Street Elementary School fifth-grader, whose foray onto the ice this week was his first try at the sport. "I want to get back on the ice and learn how to skate."
And that's exactly what he did.
After a brief stay on the sidelines for treatment with a cold compress, Sergio, 10, rejoined about 50 of his Chase classmates on the ice. The group was enjoying its first look at Panorama City's latest attraction, a dual ice and in-line skating facility known as Ice Chalet.
Although it quietly opened its doors two weeks ago after 14 months of construction, the Ice Chalet plans a grand opening celebration the weekend of Oct. 24-25, officials said.
The grand opening will include professional demonstrations, a hockey game with former members of the Los Angeles Kings and a goal-shooting contest, officials said.
On Thursday, in what proved to be an extremely popular field trip, the Chase students, including about a dozen fourth- and fifth-graders from a special-education class for deaf and hearing-impaired students, were given a chance to ice skate for free.
"We working with different programs to bring in youth groups to skate. We feel that working with the community is very important, and we plan to bring in a lot of local schools," said Lisa Carey, a spokeswoman for Recreation World, which owns the complex.
The $2.5-million, 50,000-square-foot facility is situated at 8750 Van Nuys Blvd. on the site of the former Panorama Bowl. The complex has been welcomed by local political and business leaders as a key component of Panorama City's economic revitalization and by Valley hockey players as an answer to the area's shortage of quality rinks.
For Sergio and the other Chase students, though, Ice Chalet was simply a fun way to spend the morning.
"It's great. It's just like blade skating but on ice," said fifth-grader Goar Paronyan. "I might fall a couple of times, but it's still fun."