It’s tough to be an outdoor hockey lover in a sea [pond] of unfrozen water. Usually fully submerged in pond hockey culture come January, the weather patterns have proven to be unpredictable for New Englanders and Northerners alike, causing pond hockey and outdoor skating to be virtually, a thing of the past. With snow down south and unseasonably warm days in the north, hockey players and fans are truly missing out on the outdoor skating experience.
Speaking from a personal standpoint, any lover of the ice must put skating the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa, Ontario on their ‘bucket list’ and fast. What’s better than skating through downtown Ottawa, pulling off for a hot chocolate and beaver tail then continuing on your way? That’s a almost a perfect day for the books and has been for the past 42-years. Touted as the “largest outdoor rink in the world”, the skateway, checking in at 7.8 kilometers, had to officially close for the season on February 28th. On average, the skateway opens during the first week of January, with skate enthusiasts finally hanging up their skates 1-2 weeks into March. The unseasonably warm weather and ironically, snow (ice’s worst enemy) are to blame for fewer days of acceptable ice.
“The heavy wet snow of the past 24 hours has weakened the ice and with the continuing mild weather forecast it is unrealistic to expect the ice to rebuild to safe conditions and to resume the skating season. Please note that the ice is thinning,” came the announcement on the skateways official website. “The ice surface of the Skateway can be unpredictable and many hazards cannot be seen by untrained eyes. The NCC urges the public to keep personal safety in mind and remain off the Skateway as it is now closed.”
The feelings evoked from the cool crisp winter air and naturally made ice are incomparable. Of course, many fans of the game have never even had the opportunity to hit the outdoor ice; but for those of us who have, the current weather conditions are ones worst nightmare. Pending a move to the northernmost parts of Canada, there is nothing to do but relish the memories we once had on the outdoor ice and save up our pennies to plan a trip far north, where the ice is ready and waiting for lovers of puck.