Milky white, snow-covered Mt. Shasta crowns the dark blue mountain’s base; this spectacular sight is the open air backdrop to one of the only full-size outdoor ice rinks in the area.
Located in Shastice Park in Mount Shasta, the Siskiyou Ice Rink was recently extended from 185 feet to 200 feet long. The rink’s width stayed the same, but the south end was extended.
This expansion makes the Siskiyou Ice Rink the only full- sized outdoor rink to meet National Hockey League standard measurements in the northern California and southern Oregon region according to Friends of the Rink Chairman Steve Bachmann.
Approximately $250,000 of improvements went into enhancing the ice rink this year, Bachmann said. “The majority of that was provided thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. About $25,000 was raised by Friends of the Rink through community donations.”
Bachmann said Friends of the Rink would like to thank the community for their support in keeping the rink open and Schlumpberger Engineering for overseeing the expansion project.
The additional 15 feet of ice was installed on the south side of the rink by cutting into the slab and extending lengthwise.
“Fifteen feet doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds 1,700 square feet of ice so it looks a lot bigger,” said Ice Rink Manager John Stackfleth.
“There is more room in the neutral zones. Before it was cramped with five on five, so we did four on four; now we can attract more people from Redding and Medford” said assistant youth hockey coach Mark Thibideau.
“Youth hockey kids will have so much room, and we can have smaller league games as suggested by USA Game Hockey. Plus, the adult pick-up tournament keeps growing,” Thibideau said.
Alpine Construction and Solar took on the project even though owner Eli Jones admitted that when they started, they knew nothing about the construction of an ice rink.
“This is my first ice rink project, and now I know about them. There were a lot of challenges and quite a few hoops to get it to where it is today,” Jones said.
Alpine Construction aided in the extension of the rink. They added new dasher boards and straightened out frames. They also added 30 more feet of frames and glass. Alpine laid new concrete by the fire pit, which should make the ice cleaner with no mud on the rink.
They cut and built new drainage for line detention ponds that catch the water runoff from Mt. Shasta that goes through the park. Alpine also installed new lights that they re-hung and configured, and they donated the labor for installing the new stereo system.
“I don’t know how to skate, but I want to learn how to play hockey. I would like to bring my boy out here too,” Jones said.
Owned by Mount Shasta Parks and Recreation, the Siskiyou Ice Rink runs over a 12-week season, and it is scheduled to open Saturday, Nov. 21, until Monday, Feb. 15, 2016.
A nonprofit organization, the ice rink has season passes that are available until early December at early bird rates. Pass privileges include skate rental. Admission pricing, different types of passes and gear rental rates are located on Siskiyou Ice Rink’s website at www.msrec.org/siskiyou-ice-rink/.
There are even discounted passes for those individuals who travel from 50 miles or farther to skate.
“This is the cheapest ice in the county at $2.20 per hour if a person can come every day, and they get a pass,” Thibideau said.
Affordable for the average Joe, ice skating and hockey are also excellent workouts. Goalies get a free ride because they wear so much equipment and stay in one spot. As Thibideau pointed out, skating is all about legs. It also provides an anaerobic workout by bringing the heart rate up, and ice hockey is the fastest sport because it’s on ice. Mount Shasta’s hockey team is called the Icebreakers.
“Agility, balance and control are the ABC’s of skating, and it improves hand-eye coordination. We can always use goalies, just show up” Thibideau said.
The ice rink’s normal operating costs are provided for through fundraising, and the extension was made possible by a private donor. Friends of the Rink is a volunteer run organization that helps to keep the rink running by donating tons of time, and the group is always looking for more volunteers.
To get the rink ready for its opening on Saturday, the schedule for ice making starts at 7 p.m. and goes to 1 a.m. or sometimes even 9 a.m. Individuals like John Stack, manager of the rink, Alan Nebiolini maintenance man for the rink, and Sarah Thibideau a volunteer, donated their sleeping hours to make ice.
To make ice, there is a slab of concrete and underneath the slab are 3/4 inch pipes filled with coolant. There are hundreds of them that go to the refrigerator, which keeps the coolant chilled. White mesh on top of the concrete slab gives the rink its color, and they spray paint the lines onto the white mesh.
Volunteers stay up through the night to spray a thin layer of water on top of the white mesh each night. The goal is to make up to a two inch slab of ice. Ray-Mac Mechanical laid coils for the new refrigerant system that the ice rink also added this year. The new coolant system is more efficient and should save cost in the long run even with the extension.
“I’m the everything guy. I take care of all the maintenance. It’s quite the feat, but I love it. It’s a lot of hard work, but watching the kids’ smiles on their faces makes it all worth it,” said Alan Nebiolini, seven year maintenance man for the ice rink and Zamboni driver.
Ages 4 and up are allowed to skate and Friends of the Rink encourage parents to come along too. There are snacks available, an open fire is always going in the public area, and one can book out the rink for private parties.
The rink will host a “Turkey Bowl” event on Thanksgiving Day, where bowling pins will be set up on the ice and the grand prize will be a turkey.
“Come on out and support your community rink!” Stackfleth exclaimed.
For more information about the Friends of the Rink and the Siskiyou Ice Rink, check out their website at: www.siskiyourink.org.
• Reporter Lauren Steinheimer contributed to this article.