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Northwestern's free ice-skating rink taking shape

(@NorrisCenter )
December 22, 2012|By Erin Vogel @eringejuice | RedEye

When the lines to ice skate at Millennium Park are too long, wouldn’t it be nice to have your own ice skating rink in your backyard?

Northwestern University students are lucky enough to have something like that.  Construction on the ice rink at the Norris student center started last week.

This is the third winter in a row that Northwestern has constructed an ice rink on the east lawn of the Norris University Center. Assistant Director of Norris Center Student Affairs Marketing James McHaley said that the first year of the rink in 2011 was very popular with students and other members of the NU community. (The public may bring their own skates to skate at the rink for free.)

But due to the unseasonably warm weather last winter, McHaley said the rink was only open three days out of its six weeks of operation.

“We certainly hope Mother Nature cooperates with us more in 2013,” McHaley said.

 Construction on this year’s rink began Dec. 10 with the placement of the rink wall. The water was added Wednesday. The ice rink’s project manager, Dave Grosskopf, said the rink has to be installed before the ground freezes, otherwise the plastic stakes supporting the rink boards won’t drive into the ground. Four days of highs in the 20s and lows in the teens are needed for the rink to freeze solid. Grosskopf said the rink was filled a week ahead of schedule this year to take advantage of the free fill of water from the rain and icy snow.

The rink is scheduled to open when classes begin for the winter quarter Jan. 7, weather-permitting, and will remain open until the third week of February, when the university has to remove it in order to make room for a tent and dance floor for the school’s Dance Marathon.

Zachary Kisfalusi, a 21-year-old Earth and Planetary Sciences and Geography major, said he’s been skating on the rink regularly since it opened.

“Two years ago I played hockey there once a week on Thursdays with some students who I happened to meet one night at the rink,” he said. “I’m just glad that I can continue skating as I had in high school for free without much hassle.”

Daily updates on the ice rink's status will be posted on Norris' Twitter account, @norriscenter, beginning Jan. 7.

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