Tradition continues at Eagle Town Park rink | VailDaily.com

Tradition continues at Eagle Town Park rink

Members of the Greater Eagle Fire Department flood the Eagle Town Park ice rink in preparation for this winter's activities.
Special to the Enterprise |

The Eagle Town Park Ice Rink will be making a return this winter, but as always, the opening date will be determined by Mother Nature.

“Unfortunately we don’t know when the ice rink will be ready because the weather is not cooperating,” said Kevin Sharkey, one of the volunteers working to open the rink this winter. The volunteer crew hopes the ice will be ready by Christmas, and heavy snow on Sunday and Monday helped their cause.

The outside Eagle ice rink has a long tradition in the community and volunteer effort has been a cornerstone of the tradition. This year the rink process began on Nov. 15 and will continue until the ice literally melts away this spring.

“The outdoor rink is more than a rink, it is a community facility that operates entirely on volunteers. Through the generosity of Andy Clark, the town of Eagle, WECMRD, the Eagle Fire Department, Chris Fedrizzi, and many volunteers, no facility charge is ever required,” said Sharkey.

Sharkey noted that Andy Clark, owner of Alliance Moving Systems, has been a driving force behind the outdoor ice effort since 1994 when he and Tom Ehrenberg approached Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District to organize a recreational outdoor hockey program for the entire valley. Clark was the director of Vail Junior Hockey Association at the time. The modest Eagle program continued to grow over the years and helped build momentum for the town’s indoor ice arena.

“Since then, Andy has been involved with the setting up and maintaining the rink with many fantastic hockey dads and locals,” said Sharkey.

In 2005, Andy started an outdoor hockey event ‘The Rocky Mountain Pond Hockey Championships’ on Nottingham Lake in Avon. The rinks were built on the lake and boards were expressly designed to enclose the rinks. This event went on for six years and these same boards, nets, and equipment are stored in one of Clark’s Allied Van Lines trailers.

“Each year Andy brings them to the Eagle Town Park for the rink set up,” said Sharkey “Alliance Moving Systems donates each year the storage, set up and take down labor, and maintenance of the rink equipment when needed. Last year, for example, Alliance Moving Systems invested almost $1,000 to keep the old tractor and sweeper up and running.”

New this year, the Town of Eagle has invested $5,000 for a new rink liner. The new liner allows for more efficient flooding, better ice surface, and a larger skating area than previous years. Also new this year, WECMRD has donated the tractor and sweeper to the town of Eagle for the ice rink.

“It is critical piece of equipment to remove snow from the ice so everyone has a nice surface to skate on,” said Sharkey.

Before there can be ice at the rink, someone has to pour a whole lot of water into the liner. “The Eagle Fire Department is always ready to help and no one can move water like the fire department,” said Sharkey.

Sharkey also credited Chris Fedrizzi for his generous donation of a snowplow equipped ATV with snowplow for use at the rink this season. Back on Nov. 15, a group including Adams, Clark, Bill Fillmore, Sean Byrns, Erick Barcza, John Phelan, Austin Thomas, Dave Caldarola, Dennis Hextall and Chris McCormick gathered to set up the new rink liner.

While getting the rink up and operating is an extensive volunteer effort, it is just the start of the process.

“The volunteers coordinate nightly ice making operations. Hundreds of volunteer hours are required every season,” said Sharkey. “A typical night includes applying a fine spray to build a new, thin layer of ice. As long as the weather stays cold, the ice thickness grows a little every night. It is an art as much as a science. Sometimes snow and warm temperatures challenge the crew to keep the ice in good shape. On these nights, the effort requires many hours.”

The ice rink volunteer corps is always looking for people willing to assist with the effort. Anyone interested in volunteering to maintain the ice can contact Kevin Sharkey at the town of Eagle at 970-328-6678.