Why is it called an ice rink and could outdoor skating become extinct?

Rink, is a Scottish word meaning ‘course’, it was used as the name of a place where curling was played. Early in its history, ice hockey was played mostly on rinks constructed for curling. The name was retained after hockey-specific facilities were built.

Variations of both curling and hockey had been played for many generations prior to the naming of the playing area, but the origins of the modern, indoor ice rink can be traced back to Montreal, where the first organized indoor game was played at the Victoria Skating Rink in 1875.

Outdoor Skating

It’s becoming a luxury to experience skating outdoors on a natural frozen rink in the wintertime. As of Feb 23, 2020 the Rideau Canal closed.  It was open for only 31 days from Jan. 18thto Feb. 23rd. More than 381,000 visitors enjoyed the canal in 2020. In a statement, the NCC says “the unusually warm weather earlier this week resulted in a significant degradation of the ice. With a major snowfall in the forecast, followed by higher temperatures, our mighty maintenance team can no longer ensure safe ice conditions.”  For the first time in the 50-year history of the Rideau Canal Skateway, the full length of the Skateway didn’t open for skaters.  Is this a sign of climate change?

Heather logan, creator of The Skate Helper, enjoys one of the final days of skating on the Rideau Canal before it closed early on Feb.23, 2020. 

Global Warming

RinkWatch is a citizen science research initiative that asks people who love outdoor skating to help environmental scientists monitor winter weather conditions and study the long-term impacts of climate change. Launched by researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University in January 2013, participants from across North America have submitted information about skating conditions on more than 1,400 outdoor rinks and ponds. In addition to contributing valuable data to environmental science, RinkWatch has become anonline community for people who love making backyard and community rinks.

Global warming is part of our life and major weather events are becoming a regular news item. Many people in the world will never experience outdoor skating on a natural rink. Skating outdoors in a natural setting is not only magical and awe-inspiring but it gives you a sense of freedom, it is also fun, and exhilarating.

The CBC has compiled an excellent list of scenic once-in-a-lifetime skating rink experiences in Canada check it out here.

 

 

 

Who is Making Ice Skating more Accessible?

Conway Arena

There are many barriers to ice skating whether it’s cost, mobility issues or just being afraid to try it.  For many people ice skating is just something they read about or see when they watch television.  Today, more and more arenas are offering adaptive skating programs. Once such arena is Conway Arena in New Hampshire where the Adaptive Adults Skating Program uses the skate helpers regularly.

First Stride Program

The Chicago Blackhawks introduced their First Stride program two years ago and the results have been amazing.  Their goal is to offer every school within a two-mile radius of the Fifth Third Arena the chance to come and learn how to skate and also learn in the classroom about S.T.E.M ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  Over 113,000 kids go through the program every year.  For many families skating and hockey is just not available or affordable. The Blackhawks offer skate helpers to those kids who may feel scared their first time on the ice.

The Adaptive Sports Program at Franciscan Children’s

This program provides children with special needs the opportunity to participate in sports and active recreation in a fun and safe environment. The Program promotes the learning of new skills, social opportunities and moderate to vigorous physical activity to maintain and improve health and fitness. The program takes place at the Boston Bruins Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, MA.

Lern more about this adaptive sports program by watching here:

My first winter in Ottawa

New to East Coast Winters

My family and I decided to move from Richmond, BC to Ottawa, ON this past summer.  We moved 13,000 pounds of stuff across the country. So far Ottawa has been very pleasant. Summer and fall were beautiful and now we are emersed in winter.

My kids are excited about the snow. I bought a parka at Costco, snow tires are on, and my skates are sharpened. Winter is lovely if you dress for it- ( I say this now without having experienced minus 20 or freezing rain) – but winter is a season that should be embraced and enjoyed.

The Rideau Canal

My family and I will be enjoying  the Rideau Canal with our skates and skate helpers. I’m just getting back into skating so I will use two skate helpers stacked together to get my balance and gain my confidence on the ice. We are all very excited about outdoor skating.

The Rideau Canal is Canada’s largest outdoor skating rink and is nearly 7.5 kilometres or 5 miles long. The naturally frozen canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is usually open January to March. It’s free, just need to bring your own skates or rent them from a hut along the banks.

Another skating spot we will try within a 45-minute drive from Ottawa is a 3-kilometre ice trail through the forest in Gatineau. There’s a heated building on site where you can lace up your skates, and rest areas along the trail where you can sit back and enjoy the scenery, birds and squirrels. https://www.patinageenforet.com/

The Bentway

The Bentway is another great location for skating, it transforms into a uniquely urban winter wonderland with the opening of the 220 metre skate trail open seven days a week from 12 – 9 p.m.

An on-site winter village will offer hot chocolate and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for skaters and spectators, while warming stations will help visitors get toasty before getting back on the ice.

Can’t skate? No problem! The Bentway will offer recurring free skate lessons for kids and adults. On-site skate rentals are available daily along with skate helpers.

The Bentway Skate Trail continues from January 6 to February 17, 2020 with amended weekday hours.

I look forward to discovering outdoor skating in Ottawa and Toronto this winter season.

Enjoy your winter  – get out and move!

Happy Trails from Heather at Skate Helper.

Parent and Tot Skate with $5 Skate Helper Rental

Marketing Ideas for Ice Skating Rinks

Ice skating rinks are competing with other entertainment venues when not being used for figure skating, hockey games or practices. Below are some ideas on how ice rinks can market themselves and generate additional revenue.

  1. Having Skate Helpers on hand to rent out to school groups or parents with kids is a great way to make additional revenue. Use the recessed panel on the front of the Skate Helper and put a logo sticker there.
  2. Offer a Skating Card – after 5 visits get your 6 th visit free.
  3. Offer skaters different experiences with “THEME” nights. Rinks can use music, decorations, food, lights to create events that customers want to go to. Bring in other local businesses to highlight their services.
    • Xmas Holiday Theme – with music, lights and decorations
    • Teen Only Skate Nights – bring in local restaurant fare
    • Date Night
    • Valentines’ Day
    • St. Patricks’ Day
    • Easter
    • Summer Fun on the Ice
    • Halloween

The ice rink industry is an 871 million dollar business in the US. It has experienced strong growth over the past few years. Demand has increased because of growing disposable income and rising health awareness.