Rink a few cold nights away from opening

CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON/The Daily Sentinel—Curt Maki puts a thin sheet of water on the rink at Grand Valley Skating Center on Sunday, hoping the water would turn to ice. The rink opened around Thanksgiving last year. This season, the up-and-down temperatures have frustrated his efforts to make ice, Maki said.

Bright sunshine poked through the clouds and soaked the Grand Valley on Sunday afternoon, something Curt Maki was hoping wouldn’t happen.

It was colder temperatures — more favorable toward building up the block of ice needed to finally open the Grand Valley Skating Center, 1130 N. Third St. in Grand Junction — that Maki was looking for.

“We had a couple of cold nights last week, and then the temperatures shot back up again. It’s been very difficult to make ice, and to hold ice, until it gets back in the 20s and teens again,” Maki said Sunday. “That’s what we’re waiting for at this point.”

This will be the second year that the outdoor ice rink — tucked between buildings near North Avenue — will be open to skaters. Maki said that last year the rink opened around Thanksgiving and people kept skating through the first week of March. This year, it’s just been too warm for them to get going.

“We’re just battling the elements, and that’s the biggest issue we’ve got right now,” said Maki, who spends most nights this time of year spraying the rink with water.

“As soon as the sun drops down, and the temperatures go down to the mid-20s, then we can start pouring water — and we just go all night,” Maki said.

“Once we get the block set, then the refrigeration system takes over and basically holds it,” he said.

Since the area’s only other rink, Glacier Ice Arena, shuttered two years ago, the rink on Third Street has been the only prepared surface for local hockey teams and skating enthusiasts to get their fix. Once the rink is open, it will be the practice ice for Grand Valley Youth Hockey Association teams, and the team at Colorado Mesa University will also skate there.

But in between team practices, the ice will be open for public skating. Maki plans open skating from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week. Rental skates are available, but Maki encourages folks to bring their own blades if they’ve got them.

For now, he watches the weather reports religiously — “Every day, every hour,” he said — and is excited that the forecast for the upcoming week predicts lows near single digits on a number of nights. He thinks there’s a good chance the rink could open later this week.

“We just need a couple more nights — we’re almost there,” Maki said.

Rink opening information, along with a schedule of hours, can be found at http://www.iceskatinginc.com.


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