Popular skating areas forced to close early – Edmonton

The season was short for skaters who enjoy the city’s two popular iceways.

The expanded iceway at Victoria Oval that goes from the rink into the surrounding park, and the new iceway along the paths at Rundle Park, have both been closed for the season because of bad conditions.

At Rundle, city crews were starting to see grass come through the iceway, said Mike Webb, team leader for the City of Edmonton’s river valley parks and facilities.

Warm temperatures and sunny days are to blame.

“When the sun gets to this sort of height … it starts to blister the ice,” Webb said. “It actually looks like blisters. What ends up happening is there are ice bubbles and air bubbles underneath, and they become very soft spots.”

After having to close all its outdoor ice locations Feb.14, Webb said the city was lucky to save the ice at Victoria Oval and two locations in Hawrelak Park.

Those locations have now been reopened for skaters.

“We were fortunate enough that we didn’t have as much damage to the ice at those three sites,” Webb said.

He said it took a lot of work to rehabilitate the ice after being closed for so long.

“It’s almost like you’re making the ice all over again in November.”

Tough times for speed skaters

The closure was terrible timing for the Edmonton Speed Skating Association which trains at the Oval, said its president, Jules Chabot.

“Not the best time to have the ice fall apart on us,” Chabot said. “We try to supplement it with dry land [training] or some exercise but it’s not the same, especially at a critical time in the season.”

Webb said the city had to make some tough choices about what ice surfaces it could save.

“It [Victoria iceway] blistered so bad we were focusing all our attention on Hawrelak and Victoria Oval,” he said.

“It’s almost at the point where we’re trying to save what we have.”

Webb said outdoor skating in the city usually ends in mid-March.

He said the sun is the biggest reason the ice was so badly damaged this…

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