As things often seem to go at Brandeis, the ice rink was a great idea that was terribly executed. I was so excited when I first heard the ice rink, affectionately known as the BrandICE Rink, was being built. Though I can barely stand on the ice without falling over, I’ve always loved ice skating—the rush of the air whipping around, the sounds of skates gliding over ice, the joy of struggling with your friends. Unfortunately, my winter wonderland dreams were not fulfilled due to the ice rink’s many issues and subsequent early closure.
The weekend before classes began, I found out about a class that I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to sign up for: ice skating class. I was ecstatic, telling all of my friends that I was FINALLY going to learn how to not fall over when skating by myself. My hopes were quickly dashed, though, as the first and then second classes were cancelled due to snow. We didn’t get to meet until Feb. 22, already weeks into the semester. It ended up being the only class we would get to have.
I’m still unsure why the ice rink had so many construction issues. Rumors have flown left and right detailing the way the rink was supposedly built and maintained. While I may not know the true details, I know for certain that something went wrong. The first two classes were cancelled due to snow on Sunday nights or Monday mornings. I understand that an outdoor rink is subject to the whims of Mother Nature, but it was disappointing nonetheless.
Events, other than class, that were supposed to be held at the ice rink were also a mess, though. The original welcoming event before classes started was cancelled due to issues with the ice. Though I did not attend the rescheduled event, I was told they were turning people away due to a crack in the ice. I’ve also been told that the ice rink was closed on Valentine’s Day, perhaps the best day of the year to go ice skating.
Maybe it’s for the best, though, as the ice rink itself was rather underwhelming. The size was decent enough for our tiny ice skating class, but I can’t imagine more than twenty people on it at a time. If I had to guess, I’d say it was about a third of the size of a hockey rink. I can’t be certain, though, as I was never actually allowed to use the whole rink.
The one time that class was able to be held, only half of the rink was usable. The instructor kept us restricted to the “safe” part of the rink, worried that the other half was too dangerous for beginners. The very thought of that unsafe ice scares me, as the safe part was a nightmare. It dipped and curved and crunched underneath our skates. Normally, gliding skates sound beautiful, a smooth sound of a blade on ice. Skating on this ice was like skating on gravel. Every movement brought forth an awful crunching noise as if someone was eating popcorn. In that one class, I do think I learned a little bit about how to balance better on ice, but my attempts were slow and stilted as the ice was, for lack of a better word, janky.
Any attempts to try to go fast were also halted by the lack of a wall at the rink’s perimeter. Beginners like me tend to cling to the walls of an ice rink, desperate for anything that will help keep us upright. We had no such advantage on the BrandICE rink.
Despite these challenges, I was still crushed when I learned that the rink was closing for the semester, barely a month into the year. My ice skating class is now a power walking class. My friends that never even got to try the rink are also disappointed, especially after having their parents ship them their skates. We walked by it recently only to see what was essentially a big puddle where the ice rink used to be.
Hopefully Brandeis will learn from this year’s mistakes so future Brandeisians can enjoy the thrill of skating in an easy-to-access location. The skates were in great condition the one time I got to use them, and considering they got almost no wear this year, they should be good to go next year. I hope to see the BrandICE rink open again next winter, and I’m sure many others agree.