300 volunteer hours to run Ritchie's rink

When the snow flies, the clamouring begins: When will Ritchie’s rink be ready?

Len Wampler has been making the ice for Ritchie for 26 years, up to 300 hours per season each time. That’s 7,800 hours! Almost an entire year of 24-hour days. All volunteer!

When he started, his young family was involved with hockey and ringette. Now with his kids grown, he does it for exercise and because he feels it’s important that Ritchie have a rink.

“I know how much it is used and enjoyed by all ages,” says Len.

When will flooding begin this year?

When the weather forecasts -10 C or colder through the night and below -5 C during the day for several days. This is usually early to mid-December.

And then, when can we start skating on it?

It will take about 30 hours of flooding plus the time to remove any snow that has fallen.

A good ice base needs to be built up, layer by layer, freezing solid in between.

What does it take to keep the ice in good condition?

Daily upkeep requires scraping at the end of the day which takes approximately 45 minutes. Depending on how much daily use there was, flooding after scraping (usually three to four times a week) takes approximately 1 ½  hours [each time], plus time for any snow removal.

And how long does it take to get the snow off the ice?

Up to six hours, although one five-inch snowfall took me 10 hours over a two-day period. It depends on the number of helpers and the amount of snow. It is still mostly done with shovels and scrapers.

How can we help?

Andy helps regularly, and last year Jeremy and Mark also pitched in. I leave shovels and scrapers out for snow removal. But more volunteers are always welcome!

Volunteers can:

  • Remove snow after it falls.

  • Scrape the ice after 10 p.m. each night.

  • Flood (training provided).

  • Maintain the boards.

After so many years, Len has worked out the most efficient way to get the job done. Snow is first pushed toward the closest FENCE: north boards within the rink; south and east edges on the leisure ice. Then the snowblower blows the resulting furrows clear. If this system isn’t followed, it is more work for Len. If that happens, the shovels and scrapers he usually leaves out will be put away and the rink locked until it can be properly prepared for flooding.

More questions? Offers to help?
Contact Len: lwampler@ualberta.ca or 780-439-4416.

Ritchie’s rules to skate by

Ritchie’s rules to skate by