After a bitter December cold snap that was not at all conducive to outdoor activities, mild weather has returned to the southeast, which in turn has allowed a couple of outdoor rinks to open in Estevan.
Both the Rusty Duce rink and the Kinsmen Hillside rink are now open. The Hillside rink officially opened to skaters on Dec. 30.
"When it stopped snowing, Mother Nature again did not want to cooperate," said Preston Majeran, who maintains the Hillside rink. "The minus 36, minus 40 weather didn't help make the ice so we decided not to flood it. And then once it got warm enough and it was nice outside, we decided to get back on there and give it a couple floods, and she's ready to go."
Majeran, who is with the Estevan Kinsmen Club, said the timing every year depends entirely on the weather.
"We've had it open before Christmas, we've had it open after Christmas...it all depends on what Mother Nature wants to do," he said. "This year she wasn't too cooperative. Once it got cold enough, we put some water down, and then we just got a big dump of snow. And then of course when it gets too cold if you make ice, it just gets too brittle and the skating's not as good."
Majaran said he was planning to head over to the rink again on Tuesday to put a little bit more water down. He's hoping now that the temperature doesn't get too warm.
"When it gets to the pluses then the ice becomes pretty soft," he said. "We'd like people to stay off of it (if it gets warm) so that we don't have to do a lot of fixing of the ice."
The heated dressing room at Hillside, which is operated by the city, will also open once some shoveling is done in that area, Majeran said.
He added that his crew wasn't able to do a secondary rink at Hillside this year due to the weather, but hopes that can return next year.