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Outdoor rinks facing delays in Sask. because of warm conditions

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With the warmer than normal fall weather this year, the start of the outdoor rink season has been delayed for most outdoor enthusiasts.

“We’ve been at this for two weeks now, putting little layers on at a time. We’re a little bit later than normal,” Roger Cey, Briarwood Community Association rink volunteer told CTV News.

They’re later by about two and a half weeks — so what are they hearing from skaters?

“They’re ok waiting maybe because there’s no snow on the ground, but once it’s ready there will be all kinds of people out here anxious to get their skates on,” he says.

At the Isaak family outdoor rink in the Kensington area, dad Ryan Isaak has had his ice ready for about two weeks.

“The days have been warm, the sun does beat down and the kill the ice, but the overnight temperatures are low enough that you can get going,” Ryan Isaak told CTV News.

His youngest son Zane was shoveling the ice surface Monday, but it’s a far cry from the usual snow they would be shoveling in order to skate on the rink.

“I don’t really like the snow,” Zane Isaak said.

Older brother Grant said it’s making him a little impatient because they’ve been waiting awhile for snow. He was quick to add that he doesn’t like shoveling the rink though and avoids it when he can.

The lack of snow has created some unique circumstance for the family rink, like having dirt from the garden blowing onto the ice, according to mom Monica Isaak.

“It definitely looks weird taking pictures out here. There’s grass instead of snow. We have nothing,” she said.

Some community associations have their rinks up and running like the one at Brunksill School, but the Meewasin Rink downtown isn’t ready for skaters and they’re not sure when they will be.

“Flooding to make ice takes multiple rounds of water, because of the uneven grass surface. Continued above seasonal temperatures will impact ice making [and] could affect our opening date,” said Alan Otterbein, design and development manager with the Meewasin Valley Authority.

According to Otterbein, the usual start time for their rink is mid-December, but it doesn’t look like they’ll hit that target based on the forecast.

At the Briarwood rink, Cey hopes to welcome skaters by the weekend.

He admits he’s quite happy not having to contend with deep snow during the flooding process and actually prefers these conditions.

In a province where being on an outdoor rink is very much part of the winter culture, most seem to be taking it all in stride.

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