RINK prepares for ice

Barbara Lawlor

It’s that magic time of year when the Nederland tennis courts morph into the Nederland Ice Rink. Down go the tennis nets. Up go the hockey nets. Down goes the liner. On goes the water, and with any luck at all that water turns to ice.
Last weekend a group of volunteers began flooding the rink. Volunteer Dan Harrison said the ice crew has been ready to make ice since Nov. 10, but the warm temperatures have delayed that time scenario.
“We just needed to wait out the record warmth,” Harrison said. “Last Wednesday, Dec. 5, was the warmest December day recorded in Boulder since 1980. Despite the unseasonably warm temps, we are roughly on schedule. The rink typically opens the second week of December and has opened as late as Dec. 21. Assuming the weather doesn’t go warm again we should be days from opening.”
This year the RINK volunteers are trying a more data-driven process for the ice making and maintenance. There are over a dozen temperature sensors embedded in the ice to allow them to know what is going on under the surface. Additionally, a weather station to log air temperature, humidity and wind speed has been installed. All of this technology will allow the ice makers to better understand the factors that impact ice quality and hopefully help to make better quality ice for more of the season.
The weather station is available for everyone to view online at http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KCONEDER18.
Along with the data gathering, the RINK volunteers plan some experiments to improve the ice. They will paint some of the dasher boards a less reflective color and rig temporary shading to reduce the impact of the sun on the North side.
Harrison said, “We already have a few boards painted green, which is hard to see without getting out on the ice, and our preliminary results from the temperature sensors indicate the painting will improve the ice near the boards.”
Volunteers are needed to fill Rink attendance slots. Go to nedrink.org to help out and earn time on the ice.