Warm weather thaws outdoor skating dreams at most rinks around Calgary

Gliding across a skating rink on a chilly day is an integral part of the Canadian winter experience, but the warm December weather has evaporated those icy outdoor dreams for many around Calgary.

Some community volunteers have edge in keeping neighbourhood rinks 'chinook-proof'

One of two outdoor rinks at the Haysboro community centre is closed because warm conditions are making it difficult to maintain ice surfaces. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Gliding across a skating rink on a chilly day is an integral part of the Canadian winter experience, but the warm December weather has evaporated those icy outdoor dreams for many around Calgary.

Of the seven city-operated outdoor rinks, only Olympic Plaza, which has a refrigerated ice surface, has opened so far.

Most of the community rinks are are closed, but a few remain open thanks to skilful volunteers who take the art of tending ice very seriously.

"You talk about striking when the fire is hot, well you flood when the weather's cold," said Dale Prince, a volunteer who who keeps one of two Haysboro community centre rinks in pristine condition.

Prince said they took advantage of the eight days of chilly weather in November and flooded the rink until it was built up to about 10 centimetres. Prince regularly comes back to flood the ice when temperatures are low to keep the rink "chinook-proof."

The secret to the Haysboro community centre's outdoor rink is Dale Prince, who knows the tricks to make a "chinook-proof" surface. (Mike Symington/CBC)

The warm weather does make for pleasant skating conditions when the ice is good and frozen. Andrea Merredew spent Monday at Stanley Park teaching her kids to skate.

"This place has been amazing. We've been out here probably four times in the past week and every night they seem to do some magic because we come out here and the ice is perfect," she said.

Prince says it comes down to experience.

"It's not magic, it's just sort of knowing what to do," he said.

The ice at Stanley Park combined with the warm weather have created ideal conditions for people of all ages to enjoy outdoor skating. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Environment Canada predicts the weather will stay above zero during the day until at least the end of the week.

With files from Mike Symington