Jeff Trulen and Scott “STP” Leuzinger spend their Saturday digging holes for the new rink light location. It’s a labor of love for the BSSHA board members and hockey enthusiasts.

Ice for all

Volunteers get to work on Big Sky’s skating and hockey rink

Skating and hockey seasons won't likely start this month, but work has already begun in earnest to get Big Sky’s ice rink in shape. This year it’s going to take a little more effort as the rink is being relocated to a flatter area to accommodate a refrigeration system. It’s a big update BSSHA President Ryan Blechta said is currently in the works, but not quite secured for the season just yet.

When the BSSHA received $197,000 in resort tax funding for a rink refrigeration system this summer, there was plenty of reason for the BSSHA board and ice sport enthusiasts to rejoice. Refrigeration means the rink could open as early as the fall offseason. However, the resort tax fund allocation hinged on the BSSHA raising and using $111,500 of its own monies before the tax funds would be issued. That hasn’t happened yet.

Blechta said a majority of the refrigeration equipment has been ordered, but more money still needs to be raised and spent before the BSSHA can use those resort tax funds. 

“We’ve got a lot raised so far, but we’ll need to raise more to make the refrigeration system happen this season,” explained Blechta. 

It’s that community support, be it via donations or sweat equity, that keeps the rink open each winter. 

“All the work at the rink is done through volunteers and donations,” Blechta said, giving props to his hardworking board members that, despite having demanding careers, make time and donate equipment to keep the rink dream alive. “Everyone has worked together tremendously. Winter is upon us, and we’re out there working on it every single day, calling everyone we know, asking favors.”

The rink’s new location, set up closer to the parking area in the Town Center and off of the Town Center stage lawn, serves two purposes. First, it’s a flatter spot—that’s necessary for proper refrigeration. Second, it’s in line with the Big Sky Community Organization’s master plan for that property, which is set to be purchased by the BSCO later this year. In two years or so a community center will be built on the property and will eventually serve as a warming shelter for the rink.

Blechta said he’s often asked this time of year when the rink will open for the winter. Once the refrigeration system is in place, skaters could be out there by late October through the end of April. Without it, Mother Nature remains in charge as temperatures in the low teens or high 20’s are needed to start flooding. So for now, Blechta said the goal is to have the rink ready to go by the Christmas Stroll in early December or soon after.

Interested in donating to the refrigerated rink effort? There’s still time—just email bigskyice@gmail.com and the BSSHA, a 501c3, will send an official donation form. There’s also time left to sign up as a board sponsor, $500 for the season. Email bigskyice@gmail.com to do so.

—JP

 

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