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Crested Butte South raising money for ice rink upgrades

Curling returns 

New boards? Holy sheet! Chris Behan, Crested Butte South Property Owner’s Association manager, is currently raising funds to upgrade the Crested Butte South ice rink facility in time for the 2008-2009 winter season.

 

In addition they will be adding a garage for the Zamboni and two changing rooms at the north end of the rink. But, it’s going to cost some coin. Behan budgeted the cost of the new boards with Fiberglass and curb at $86,000. So far $26,000 has been raised toward the project and there will be a fundraiser/silent auction in mid-December to help bring the goal closer. The current ice rink came to fruition six years ago with the help of some used boards, compliments of the Town of Crested Butte. Each year, improvements are made to accommodate the variety of users for 10 to 12 weeks each winter, depending on the weather. In those 10 to 12 weeks of ice this year, Behan says the rink is scheduled for use five days a week from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Everyone from kids hockey to the Red Ladies women’s team as well as adult men’s hockey is on the schedule, making for another busy season of use. “Sixty-percent of the use comes from the youth hockey program,” says Behan. “I figure, conservatively, (the rink) gets about 6,000 skaters” over the season. The budget for the rink is $10,000 per year and is covered through an advertising program on the hockey boards and user fees for teams, as well as a donation from the East River Skating Association. While the long-term plan of new boards and curb are in the works for next year, Behan and his crew made improvements this summer and fall in preparation for the upcoming 2007-2008 season. Currently, the Zamboni is in pieces, with some much needed work getting done to the classic machine from 1974. “We’re completely rebuilding the Zamboni,” explains Behan. Behan explains that due to the “delicate” nature of the Zamboni, the commute from its current garage to the ice rink causes wear and tear. As a result, he estimates skaters lose five to six days a season to Zamboni mechanicals. He hopes to eliminate that with the current preventive maintenance being provided. In addition, crews updated the electrical system to provide enough wattage for two additional lights. The biggest change, though, for this year is the addition of two lighted curling sheets. That’s right: curling returns to Crested Butte this winter. Crested Butte South resident Norman Whitehead first got interested in curling while watching it on television, and then witnessed the World Curling Championships first hand. “I got interested in it during the Olympics and then went to the World Curling Championships in Boston and Calgary,” says Whitehead. He and Kerrie Ashbeck decided an interest in curling might develop in Crested Butte and decided to try it out. “We thought that we’d kind of give it a whirl,” says Whitehead. They set up the Crested Butte Curling Club and signed up 50 interested curlers at their booth during the People’s Fair in September. “It’s been surprising,” says Whitehead. “A lot of people seem to be interested in trying it.” With the help of Behan and his crew there will be two lighted sheets, and equipment for curling is coming in from Idaho and Scottsdale, Ariz. So far the light poles are up and the trench is dug to run power to the lights. According to Whitehead, they will see what level of interest there is and then start organizing possible teams and league nights. Of course, none of this will happen unless the weather cooperates with consistently cold temperatures. The ice rink has been up and running as early as Thanksgiving and as late as mid-December in years past, but it all depends. The rink and curling facility will open “as soon as Mother Nature says winter is here,” says Behan.

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