The ‘Glice’ing on the cake

Deadwood department heads, city crews, and members of the Main Street Initiative committee banded together Monday afternoon to help install the city’s new Glice synthetic ice rink, just in time for the grand opening of Outlaw Square 5-8 p.m. Friday night. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — Deadwood’s blizzard over the weekend brought ice. And it also blew in the eagerly-awaited Glice.

Outlaw Square’s new synthetic ice rink arrived by semi bright and early Monday morning, and by 11:30 a.m., city crews, members of the Main Street Initiative committee, and department heads, alike banded together to install the, well, ‘Glice’-ing on the cake for the town’s new public gathering space.

The Glice rink arrived in a shipping container from Lucerne, Switzerland, which holds the synthetic ice panels and ice skates, among other components.

Upon arrival in the Black Hills, the shipping container had to wait out the nasty winter storm that hit the area over the weekend, but the story doesn’t end there.

“It’s exciting, but it’s also been an adventure and a ton of work,” said Outlaw Square Director Bobby Rock. “We shoveled about three feet of snow and plowed it off the middle of that rink on Sunday. It was stacked about three feet high and we got it all out in the middle of that and today, it was clear, the ice showed up, and we were ready to start laying it down. So, it’s an exciting time … city crews have been working hard and some of them came and helped us this morning to finish everything up to get things ready and to get it all prepped.”

Mark Winter, EO of Glice USA was on hand to help install the Glice rink and took a break from training those working in the installation to answer a few questions regarding the product.

Winter has installed Glice rinks around the world. So what’s unique about Deadwood’s Outlaw Square and where the ice rink will sit in town?

“Your location? Well, for one thing, it’s a magnificent location. I had never understood that Deadwood was down in a arroyo, in a canyon,” Winter said. “For some reason, I had you up on a plateau. So this sort of intimate winter environment with hills, that, frankly, if they were a little taller, would be decent ski hills, it’s pretty nice. And it’s sort of a, I think, wonderful sort of setting, an old, really historic town to have a skating rink in the center of town. So we’re really excited to have it here.”

Winter said the benefits of synthetic ice versus a traditional ice rink are many.

“A conventional rink requires a lot of machinery, compressors, and power to make ice, lots of pipes. You’ve got to lay down layer and layer and layer of ice and all this takes an enormous amount of energy and an enormous amount of water. It also requires refrigerants that are now being controlled by the government like freon, you can no longer use it, so you use things, what’s called ethylene glycol, which requires compressors to run a lot faster and harder,” Winter said. “So a regular ice rink is a hugely expensive thing.”

For example, a rink the size of Outlaw Square’s, if it were just a rental rink, would be more than $300,000 alone, just in rental cost.

“And then to operate it for a couple of months, easily, another $50,000 or $60,000,” Winter said. “Plus the Zamboni that has to resurface the ice. They’re about $80,000 to $110,000 now and require a lot of training of people to operate it.”

The cost of Deadwood’s rink was around $150,000.

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of the Glice rink is the ecological solution it offers.

“This synthetic skating surface is reusable. At the end of its life, it can be recycled and reused again,” Winter said. “It doesn’t require any water or power. It can be operated with fairly non-technical skills and it’s a lot of fun. It skates like ice.”

By means of friction, blades cut open molecules on the synthetic ice which release a lubricant creating the glide effect, which is only 2% slower than conventional ice.

Plastic ice comes in synthetic ice panels or ice sheets, which are connected via tongue-and-groove, dovetail, or puzzle system. The panel connections are seamless.

Winter said the entire surface would likely be in by the end of the day Monday.

“Those things on the sides that contain the skaters are called dasher boards,” Winter said. “We’ll probably have those all up and leveled and finished by the middle of the day, and then really all there is, is skate sharpening. We have an automated skate sharpener and a large volume of skates for the residents to use and some cleaning procedures for keeping it clean.”

Deadwood Historic Preservation Officer Kevin Kuchenbecker, the lead for the city on the Outlaw Square project said it was highly rewarding to be at the Glice installation point.

“It’s like early Christmas,” Kuchenbecker said. “It’s a long time in coming and I’m very pleased and excited to see it in use.”

Over the next few days, crews will be preparing in earnest for Friday’s grand opening of Outlaw Square.

“There’s two days of decorating, some touch-up, hanging the sign, hanging the curtains, getting the gazebo up and running, preparing for the grand opening,” Kuchenbecker said.

Main Street Initiative Chairman Bill Pearson said he felt great about seeing the ice rink being installed Monday and even pitched in a little to help carry the 85-pound ice sheets and place them in the square.

“It’s great for the community and we finally got this finished after five to six long years and it’s going to be utilized by the community, I think, a lot more than people think,” Pearson said. “In the summertime, it’s going to be a great place for the visitors to relax and enjoy Deadwood and hopefully bring more people into the community and therefore, helping the businesses on Main Street and Sherman Street and it’s just going to be a great addition to the community of Deadwood.”

The Deadwood Community Holiday Celebration and grand opening of Outlaw Square begins at 5 p.m. Friday at Outlaw Square. All are welcome at this free, family-friendly event that features the lighting of Deadwood’s community Christmas tree, as well as words from dignitaries involved in the development of Outlaw Square and a Masonic cornerstone dedication ceremony.

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