A Fort McMurray man has been awarded a bizarre but well-earned title: Great Canadian Hoser.
Kris Jackson has been building backyard hockey rinks for the last four years, but this winter his idea took off in a big way.
He flooded a 20-foot by 30-foot rink complete with small boards and LED-illuminated red and blue lines, and decorated it with the logos of Canadian NHL teams.
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For his efforts, he won one of five Canadian Tire "Great Canadian Hoser" awards. He received a trophy and a $1,000 giftcard — and definitely some bragging rights.
"It totally took me by surprise," Jackson said. "I didn't set out to win an award. I didn't even know about the award until I was called and they said my rink was nominated so the attention's been a little bit overwhelming."
Jackson's rink is also featured on a website called RinkWatch — a "citizen science" site that pools data from rinks across the country.
The project, which has been running for four years, allows rink-builders like Jackson to pin their rink on a map and report the skating conditions. Not only does it provide would-be skaters with an idea of what rinks might be available, it allows the RinkWatch team to study winter trends.
"It's been a tough winter," said team member Robert McLeman, an associate professor of geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University.
"It's been very frustrating for people. It was a late start to begin with and the freeze/thaw cycle has just been terrible. It's really tough when you're trying to keep the ice frozen."
McLeman and his team found that an average daily temperature of -5 C is ideal for maintaining backyard rinks.
Jackson said he's planning on making next year's rink even better — but he might run into some space constraints.
"I've been half-joking that I might have to tear down my garage to make room for a bigger rink," he said.
"But I think I can come up with some ideas to make it a bit bigger, a bit better."