The thrill of ice skating right beneath the majestic Mount Shasta while feeling the crisp winter air of Northern California is something you have to experience to believe.
The Siskiyou Ice Rink opened to the public on November 17th and will stay open through the winter until February 10th. Its weekly schedule will include numerous public skates, group skates and hockey programs. Go to siskiyourink.org for all the information and schedule.
The Friends of Siskiyou Ice Rink, the non-profit organization that manages the rink, continued in the offseason to make major improvements to the rink. The past three seasons have seen the rink’s expansion to being a full National Hockey League standard sized rink, new dasher boards were acquired and installed, the entire chiller system was upgraded, issues with the rink’s cement pad were addressed, the area around the fire pit was improved, new hockey netting was put up, and much more, including helping make youth hockey accessible to all youth wanting to participate.
On a personal level, I am very excited about ice hockey season in NorCal. As an avid hockey player, you can find me up at the rink every winter honing in my skills. I remember playing when the rink opened when I was merely in my teens. Here’s a little highlight from a couple years back playing under the stars:
It really is a magical place. Here is an article we wrote about the rink back in 2015:
California’s Frozen Gem – The Siskiyou Ice Rink
Whether it’s a sunny day under the shadow of Mt. Shasta or a cold night under bright, illuminating stars, the Siskiyou Ice Rink is one of a kind in our community. Heck, it’s one of a kind in the world. It’s a full-size ice rink that sits at the base of the beautiful mountain that towers over it. Being a person who lives in a hot valley and considers triple degree heat in the summer to be normal, being close to home and outdoor on an ice rink seems foreign. When you add to the spectacle the stunning view of Mount Shasta constantly hovering above, you realize that this isn’t just another ice rink.
At the Siskiyou Ice Rink, you can be a novice skater looking for a rare ice experience, an amateur looking to nail your first figure skating trick or a pro showing off your skills in a hockey game, this rink literally has something for everyone. Programs offered at the rink include open family skating, a full hockey program, learn-to-skate and figure skating classes, competitions and shows.
While the rink is typically only open for around three months every year, the tourism effect is felt in Mt. Shasta City.
“For local business, the rink draws over half of its weekend skaters from outside Siskiyou County,” said John Stackfleth, Siskiyou Ice Rink Manager. “One restaurant owner told me that he noticed an increase in volume when the rink opens, and a decrease when it closes each year.”
The rink was first built in 2000, and its road to success has been a slow, bumpy process. The rink originally consisted of a set of boards around the rink, a chilling system and plumbing system to move coolant to the ice surface and a Zamboni to clean the ice. The plumbing consisted of plastic tubes embedded in a sand floor. In 2004 a cement pad was poured below the ice, greatly improving its quality. Each addition and improvement to the rink was made possible by donations, grants and community fundraising.
The existence of the Siskiyou Ice rink is made possible by the participants, but you can’t forget the man hours the volunteers put in every day.
“The operational costs of the rink are defrayed by admission fees, skate rentals and season passes,” explained Stackfleth. “However, Friends of Siskiyou Ice Rink, a non-profit organization, raises contingency funds for the purpose of covering operational deficits should they occur.”
The Friends of Siskiyou Ice Rink is a major part of this rink’s existence. Earlier this year, for example, the Shasta Regional Foundation awarded the non-profit $11,300 for the purpose of sorely needed new rental skates. They raised $1,300 in donations to offer scholarships to kids for hockey and skating lessons. And in 2011 when the rink was forced to close due to a number of factors, it was “The Friends” who stepped up with a grassroots campaign to raise money and awareness in order to address the rinks problems.
Today, the rink is flourishing with out-of-towners and locals alike flocking to the rink to skate or play hockey. If you haven’t had a chance to experience one of the true winter gems of the Northstate, it is well worth the commute and potential cold weather. Dress warm and prepare for an experience you’ll never forget.
For more information on the Siskiyou Ice Rink and Friends of Siskiyou Ice Rink go to siskiyourink.org.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine