Resident recaptures magic of outdoor rink | DrumhellerMail
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Last updateFri, 14 Jun 2024 6pm

Resident recaptures magic of outdoor rink

    The concept of the backyard skating rink may have melted away, but Drumheller resident Pat Doyle resurrected the idea a few years ago and created his own ice surface.
    The backyard rink conjures up fond memories for anyone who has skated upon a sheet of makeshift ice. But the prevalence of such rinks has diminished as time has passed.
    “As a kid I skated on sloughs and my dad and my neighbour always made a backyard rink and I’ve always been involved in hockey,” said Pat Doyle.
    “We used to do a lot in a backyard rink on 5th Street. It was a lot of fun. We used to have all the kids in the neighbourhood come over all day on Saturdays. It’s nice because it’s unorganized. Every Saturday you knew kids would be there if they weren’t playing organized hockey,” said Dave Wood, educational director for the Drumheller Dragons.
    The house Wood so fondly remembers was that of Helen and Eric Holm, who routinely built a backyard rink for everyone to enjoy. It has been years since those days and there’s a perception that the backyard rinks have been disappearing. However, Doyle worked hard to recapture the magic.
    “I’ve had a rink in the back of my house for the past five years,” said Doyle.
    Five winters ago Doyle decided to build a skating rink in his backyard. The process involves making a base of snow, watering it to a slush consistency, letting it settle and freeze, and then water to make a solid layer of ice.
    “The initial set up is the hard part, but after that it’s all gravy, It doesn’t take much to maintain once it’s up and running,” said Doyle.
    The advantages of the backyard rink are that it allows for a more relaxed skating atmosphere.
    “I’m glad we have the rink, kids are glad. We use it at night, because I have lights on it. I can get home from work, plug in the lights, and away we go. It’s fun. We’re at home, so if we get cold we can go in the house. We can make a split decision and do it,” said Doyle.
    Backyard skating rinks also provides a great environment to teach young ones, or older folks, how to skate for the first time. There are no distractions and the pressure of skating around others is not there.
    “It’s easier to teach your kid to skate, because it’s just you and your kid so you can concentrate,” said Doyle. “It’s a little bit more intimate.”
    There are, of course, community rinks scattered around the Valley, used for a casual skating.
    “They’re used quite extensively, and because of that, is there a need for people to have them in their own yards,” said Doyle. “I know the kids who are involved in hockey, they’re always at the outdoor rink.”
     “We used to have so many rinks. The community rinks that are here, it’s easy enough to set some regulations when pucks are allowed or not,” said Wood. There are currently community rinks in East Coulee, Midland, Newcastle, and Nacmine.
    The weather recently has undone some of the hard work that Doyle, or anyone else who has made their own rink, has put into their backyard.
    “Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t been cooperating. We haven’t used it since just after Christmas. The ice is really soft, so I don’t want to damage it,” said Doyle.
    Winter is not over yet. A recent cold snap will be another opportunity for the skating rinks, both community and backyard, to refreeze and be enjoyed by young and old alike.


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