Teams, students and rink manager look forward to approaching ice rink opening

For many students and alumni, dreams of a St. Olaf ice rink are finally coming true. On Jan. 3, 2019, the new St. Olaf indoor, NHL-sized rink will host its first campus open skate. While many students have seen the construction down at Skoglund, they do not necessarily know exactly what the rink will include or what this will mean for the St. Olaf community.

The rink will measure 200 x 85 feet and house “state-of-the-art video broadcasting capabilities,” according to the Bring Ice Home website.

As a result of construction, there are seven new women’s and men’s varsity locker rooms to house fall, winter and spring sports, with showers for both home and visiting players. For spectators and skating hopefuls, there are 800 spectator seats to choose from and rental skates for open skate time.

In past years, St. Olaf hockey teams have needed to begin gearing-up on campus, pile into cars and drive to rinks in either Faribault, Northfield or Lakeville, where they finish getting dressed.

“There are six available locker rooms. They are so small that we have to use three to fit our whole team,” Madeline Johnson ’19 said in an email. “There are no showers at the rink, so we return to campus to shower and the visiting team has to drive all the way back to their campus to shower.”

Due to limited ice time, hockey teams often have to schedule their practices as early as 6 a.m. or as late as 10 p.m., which means the players often have to schedule their classes around practice times rather than academic needs.

The new rink will make practices much more accessible, being just a short walk from classes and dorms. Because they will be a priority at their own home rink, practices can take place at much more convenient times, and the players will have greater flexibility in choosing their courses. The new facility will give them their own locker rooms, too, increasing both logistical practicality and team bonding.

“We’ve never had a rink on campus so the team is beyond excited to be able to play our first game in front of our fellow students and faculty.” – Sawyer Jacobson ’19

“We’ve never had a rink on campus so the team is beyond excited to be able to play our first game in front of our fellow students and faculty,” Sawyer Jacobson ’19 said. “I expect the energy in the new rink to be fantastic.”

For other students, it opens a whole new host of opportunities for clubs, intramurals, academics and leisure time.

“I am currently in the process of purchasing rental skates and we will be scheduling open skates for students.” Rink Manager Brandon Koontz said over email. “[I am also] working on scheduling ice for the club sports like broomball, curling, figure skating and hockey.”

Students are already making big plans. Sena Spinella ’19 already began a figure skating club. Figure skaters are excited, as the new rink allows for sharing the passion of skating with others, according to Spinella.

“I’ve missed being able to skate as often as I used to, so having a rink this accessible is really exciting,” Elise Lanigan ’20,  a figure skater, said. “I think the rink will be great for all the hockey players and figure skaters on campus. But I also hope there will be opportunities for people who haven’t really skated before to try it. I’m personally hoping to use this opportunity to force my friends into letting me teach them how to skate.”

The new rink also opens up new Studies of Physical Movement (SPM) options for students, allowing them to potentially skate or play hockey as part of their SPM requirements.

Koontz promises that for fans, it will not just be a shorter commute to events.

“We will have the music and lighting to make it a fantastic atmosphere to see a game,” Koontz said.

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