Eager residents help Strathcona rink thrive

thumb KunleinOn bitterly cold nights when temperatures plummet, most outdoor rinks are quite barren.

But at 10 p.m., volunteers battle the winter elements and flood the rink to create a clean, glistening sheet of frozen water for hockey players and ice skaters to enjoy.

Roy Kuhnlein, a volunteer at the Strathcona Community Association, heads a squad of about 50 other volunteers who maintain the community ice rink. He says they can have up to a dozen volunteers flooding the ice at night. Kuhnlein said he helps out himself at least a couple times a week.

Produced by Brent Dufault and Neil Hilts

"There's a core group of people that look at the forecast and say, 'Yea, it's going to be cold so we can flood'," Kuhnlein said.

However, a major challenge facing the volunteers is Calgary's fluctuating temperatures that can cause the rink's conditions to change, resulting in cracks or slush.

"The real problem is the warm weather, because all that hard work you've done gets wiped out and some pieces of ice need special attention."

Despite the long list of volunteers at the Strathcona rink, Kuhnlein said it can be a challenge for other community associations to find residents who are willing to help out late at night.

"Just making sure you get enough people out is probably your biggest challenge. From there, it's having a good base of equipment. Getting volunteers to bring in their own personal gear can get a bit tricky at times," Kuhnlein said.

John Wilding, a frequent user of the Strathcona rink, said he appreciates the work that goes into maintaining it. He said he and some friends plan on joining the volunteer team to add a few more helping hands.

"We just live down the street. It's the best ice of any rink in Calgary we've played so far," Wilding said. "It must be rough coming out here to do that stuff, especially when it's 20 below."

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