Ice Rink gets ready for the winter season

-A A +A
By Kirsten Laskey

The Los Alamos County Ice Rink has gained a lot of notoriety. Not only is it one-of-a-kind – the local rink is the only refrigerated, outdoor ice arena in the state – but it has appeared on the big screen. The rink was featured in the movies “Brothers” as well as “Let Me In.”
Starting Friday, the public will be able to experience this noteworthy county facility themselves as the rink opens its doors to a new season. The first event will be an adult skate at 11:30 a.m. Friday, followed by public skating at 1:45 p.m. and a hockey tournament at 8 p.m.
Along with its traditional events, which include turkey bowling from 2-4 p.m. Nov. 20 and from 3-5 p.m. Nov. 21, as well as Skate with Santa, which will be from 2-4 p.m. Dec. 18 and from 3-5 p.m. Dec. 19, the arena staff is hosting a contest to celebrate its new Zamboni.
A new Zamboni was purchased, ice rink manager Dianne Marquez said, because like any other vehicle there comes a point where the cost of repairs exceeds the vehicle’s useful life. The former Zamboni was about 18-19 years old and its replacement cost $90,000.
Anyone up to age 12 can participate in naming the new ice resurfacer. The contest will be conducted by age category. The winning entry will be drawn at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 18. A panel of judges will award prizes for each age group and the overall winner will receive a 10-punch card to the rink as well as have the winning name painted on the Zamboni.
Entry forms for the contest can be picked up at the ice rink or online at www.losalamosnm.us/rec.
While there are a lot of fun times ahead, there is still work to be done to get the rink ready for the new season.
Marquez said staff are being trained and hired, skates are being sharpened, passes are being sold and brochures are being printed. Also, there is “lots of cleaning,” being done, she said.
Additionally, the staff is working to build the ice in the arena.
Michael Phillips, lead ice technician, said the ice was recently painted and now the staff is working to build the ice up to a safe depth, which is 1.5 inches.
It takes about 24 hours to build up 1 inch of ice. The ice is formed through a sprayer shooting out a fine mist of water. Phillips said the 24 hours is not continuous; workers need to contend with heat and humidity. The temperatures at night also need to be just right for the water to freeze.
When the ice was built to a quarter of an inch thick, Phillips said whole arena floor gets painted white. More ice is added and then the lines are painted. That layer of ice is needed between the paint so the colors don’t mix and the red lines suddenly become pink lines, Phillips said.
This year’s paint job stands out from previous years, he said, particularly because the Los Alamos Hockey Association created logos for the ice. “It will look really sharp,” Phillips said.
It takes a lot of work and a lot of late nights to get the ice right for public use, but the end result is worth the effort, he said.
“Just the satisfaction of putting in a good sheet of ice (and seeing) people using it,” makes the process enjoyable, Phillips said.
People may not pay close attention to the ice sheet but “They enjoy coming down to the facility and using it and we want to provide the best conditions we can,” he said.
Each session, 20,000 people will glide across that stretch of ice. Recently, this has included a few movie stars.
Marquez said working with filmmakers for “Brothers” and “Let Me In” was a fun experience. “We’re very excited the rink has been utilized and local members of the community have been featured as well,” she said.