Whether it's hockey or figure skating or just going round and round, Whistler on ice is about to become a permanent fixture with the opening of the resort's new outdoor skating rink at the Olympic Plaza on Thursday, Dec. 20.
Residents and visitors are invited to celebrate the official opening from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The family-friendly event will include a ribbon-cutting with Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, a Whistler Skating Club performance, Paintertainment animation, hot chocolate, cupcakes, and a chance to win passes to the Whistler Presents: New Year's Eve Celebration.
Public skating will be available that day until 9 p.m.
Following the success of last winter's temporary ice-skating facility, the rink means that ice-skating will now be offered every winter — good news for visitors who have consistently stated in surveys that skating was an important activity missing from the Whistler Village experience, said the municipality in a release.
Skating will be free of charge and open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, except on holidays.
Operating costs are estimated to be around $60,000 a year after revenues for skate rentals and food and beverage sales.
The facility was funded by $1.4 million in provincial Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding, while the operating costs of maintaining the ice surface will fall to the municipality.
The surface area is much larger than last year, when a temporary ice surface and "skate path" was constructed at 11,347 square feet — about two thirds the size of the ice surface at Meadow Park Sports Centre.
There will still be a track, but the area between the track and the covered pavilion area will be covered with ice as well.
Roughly 17,000 people used the ice surface last year, with 14,000 skate rentals during that period.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler is also launching a new 2010 Olympic Games Experience guide and map at the event. This self-guided tour is a starting point for visitors to learn Whistler's story of the Games.
More information on the rink is available online at www.whistler.ca/olympic-plaza.
-with files by Andrew Mitchell