A 100,000-square-foot ice arena with two NHL-sized rinks will open in Leesburg today, making it the largest structure of its kind in the area. The Ion International Training Center’s weekend-long grand opening celebration will include performances by figure skaters such as Nathan Chen and Mirai Nagasu, both of whom won bronze medals in last year’s Winter Olympics.
The team behind the facility is husband-and-wife duo Luiz Taifas, a former Olympic figure skater from Romania, and Mitra Setayesh. Taifas has lived and coached in Loudon County for 18 years, and the couple currently resides in Leesburg.
It’s long been a dream of Taifas’s to bring a center of this caliber to the area, he says, and, with activities for all levels of athletes, it’s his hope that “at some point, everybody from this community will walk through these doors.”
The $25 million facility was funded by a series of private investors, says Taifas, and it includes a cafe, pro-shop, and a gym with cardio and weight-training equipment, as well as studios for classes like yoga and zumba. The gym will be open to the public for use, he says, and memberships will range from $20 to $40 a month.
On weekends, the rinks will be open to the community for public skating, and folks can sign up for camps, teams, and lessons in figure skating, synchronized skating, ice hockey, and speed skating.
The rinks can also be covered, and Taifas plans to use the space for concerts, graduation ceremonies, conferences, and other events.
And as for the name? “We were looking for positive energy,” says Taifas of the Ion moniker. “And a very short name to [precede] International Training Center.”
It’s also a Romanian form of the name John, which was Taifas’s late father’s name. “My father was a force behind me that helped me reach my goals,” Taifas says of his journey toward becoming an Olympic skater. “[He] pushed me forward to my highest levels.”
You can celebrate Ion’s grand opening with free public skating and hockey matches throughout the weekend, as well as the Saturday evening performance by Chen, Nagasu, and other renowned figure skaters Nam Nguyen and Dan Hollander. The performance will be hosted by Figure Skating Hall of Fame member Michael Weiss, and tickets are $40 to $100.
Ion International Training Center; 19201 Compass Creek Pkwy. SE, Leesburg