The outdoor ice surface installed this winter finished operations this weekend after a season of putting smiles on the faces of the ice skaters who strapped on blades.
With the ice under the cover looking rough and the uncovered area turned almost completely to slush in uncovered section of the skating area, many of the skaters enjoying the facility Sunday (March 25) didn't realize it was the last day of outdoor skating in Whistler.
As of the beginning of March, 17,000 skaters reportedly took to the skating surface. Kyana and Lexi Suverlak of Squamish brought their parents to the ice surface for an afternoon of skating without realizing it would be their last skate at the facility this season.
Both Scott Hanson of Seattle and Nicole Whelen of Vancouver said they hope the ice surface returns next year.
When asked if the ice should be put in place again next winter, Whelen said: "Absolutely, that would be a shame if it wasn't here. We had so much fun."
Whelen was using the ice with her daughters Sarah Elizabeth and Rebecca. Hanson was skating with his son Harrison.
"This was our first time we've skated in many, many years," he said. "I love the little rink, the little track around there, it is great."
Peter White, a visiting hospital sales representative from Vancouver, was skating with his daughter Stella. They slowly made their way around the slushy, half frozen track pushing a green skating trainer that was almost as tall as Stella.
Statistics from Tourism Whistler indicate that three per cent of visitors like White and his daughter tried out the rink this season. The estimates suggest 20 per cent of Whistler residents have stepped onto the ice with skates on.
Bob Andrea, the municipality's manager of village animation told council on March 8 that the numbers reported by TW have the municipal staff budgeting for an enhanced facility next winter. He said skate shop hours may be expanded and the number of available rental skates might be increased. As well, he said a mid-December opening is being considered.
The ice surface is a temporary facility so to save money for the operations next year Andrea said some permanent ice making components may be installed to keep costs down over the long term.
White, Harrison and Whelen all would use the facility with their children again next year if the ice returns in December.
-with files from Alison Taylor