An unexpected ice out leads to a major ice repair job on outside campus rink

Elliot Jennings and Craig Neilson try out the ice Monday, Feb. 15, on the revamped outdoor ice rink after it was rebuilt last week. Photo by Amber Reichart

Elliot Jennings and Craig Neilson try out the ice Monday, Feb. 15, on the revamped outdoor ice rink after it was rebuilt last week. Photo by Amber Reichart

A last-minute decision by Facility Operations (FACOPS) on whether to shovel snow off the ice rink outside of the Wise Campus Center or use machinery left the rink’s ice – and students’ skating plans – shattered under the weight of a Bobcat utility vehicle.

The good news is, thanks to last weekend’s deep freeze, the ice is back. But during the past few weeks, the ice went through a saga.

“I was walking to class one day and realized there were a number of large ice chunks where the rink once was,” said Sophie Englehart, a sophomore business major. “You can clearly see where the ice gave in to the Bobcat’s weight.”

“It was a judgment call,” explained Ryan Maxfield of Randolph, Vt.. who works for FACOPS. “Last year, we had used the broom on our Bobcat to quickly clean it off and be more efficient with the process.” This year, Maxfield continued, “The ice was still anywhere from 7-9 inches thick. Nobody would have thought at the time that the Bobcat would fall through.”

The outdoor ice rink is a fun and free outdoor activity that students use to kick the winter blues at all times of the day.

“It’s always fun to round up a bunch of your buddies and get outside for a quick game after class,” said Ryan Michaels, a junior history major. “When you get sick of being inside during the winter it was nice to have something to do outdoors.”

Matt Collins, a sophomore English major, agrees, “It’s not like you can pick up a basketball, football, or volleyball and go out to the field in the winter for a game.”

Once the Bobcat went into the ice, it punctured the liner underneath and the decision was made to tear it up and start over. A backhoe tore up the ice into chunks that were loaded into a dump truck.

Students were upset to find the rink cracked, as they used it to help relieve stress from the semester.

“I would use the rink to get my mind off of Rookdom,” said Chase Hainey, a 19-year-old sophomore communications major from Fryeburg, Maine. “It’s one of those times where it was funny, but it sucks that it happened.”

Students were forced to go elsewhere to find skating opportunities in Barre and Montpelier. “I’ve taken the drive to Barre a couple times this winter to skate. Kreitzberg always seems to be booked up,” says Sean Hall, a junior history major. “Between hockey and all the other events that take place there, it’s hard to find an opportunity to just get out and skate freely.”

Collins isn’t a fan of traveling beyond Norwich to skate. “The benefit of the campus ice rink is the fact that it is a free activity for the students. I’m a broke college student. I can’t afford to public skate as much as I would skate here on campus.”

Nobody is officially in charge of cleaning the Wise rink, but every year a couple of employees willingly took the time to clean it for students. “It was an honest mistake,” said Maxfield.

FACOPS worked hard to fix the hole left in the rink and in students’ winter plans. “At first, the grounds crew got together to take out the broken ice on the rink patch the holes in the liner and fill in the area damaged,” explained Maxfield. “It turned out that the hole in the liner was bigger than expected. Our next option was to completely clean out all the ice on the rink and tear out the damaged liner.”

By Monday a nice blue-tinted sheet of ice was back and skaters were already using it. “It was a place my new friends and I bonded over. I learned to skate here last year and I had so much fun,” said Englehart. “I truly was looking forward to getting back out on the ice this winter and freshening up my skills.”

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