Ice skating begins in Asia’s oldest rink
Shimla, Dec 27 (IANS) A red balloon was tethered to the roof of the British-era municipal corporation building here on Tuesday for the first time this season, signalling the opening of Asia’s oldest ice-skating rink.
Rink authorities said a natural coating of thick ice surfaced for the first time in this season, indicating the onset of freezing winter.
The locals, mainly youngsters, lost no time in gliding on skates.
“Today (Tuesday) widespread thick ice surfaced naturally on the rink and we had first regular session of the season,” Bhuvnesh Banga, secretary of the skating club set up in 1920, told IANS.
Though the ice started to surface three-four days back but now it is widely spread, Banga said, adding the skating session was much delayed owing to lack of natural ice formation.
Shimla’s minimum temperature was 6.9 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, following which a thick sheet of naturally-formed ice formed in the rink in the morning.
On the start of the session, there were 30-35 skaters, said club organisers.
“Finally, the skating season begins. It’s a good activity during our school break,” said skater Shriya Thakur.
The club authorities sprinkle water on the clay ground of the open-air rink which freezes under natural conditions in the night. If the sky is cloudy, the minimum temperature normally rises, resulting in thawing of ice.
The congenial average minimum and maximum temperature for ice formation ranges from 4 to 5 degrees Celsius and 8 to 10 degrees Celsius, respectively.
The skating club holds two sessions a day – 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. – depending on the ice formation. Currently, only morning sessions begin.
The idea of a natural skating rink was developed by an Irish military official named Blessington who lived in Shimla.
He had inadvertently kept a bucket of water outside his residence and in the morning found it had frozen. That gave him the idea of a skating rink and he created a small one of his own in 1920.