A pair of skaters make the rounds on the Emera Oval earlier in December.
The Emera Oval is open for another season, offering Haligonians the chance to enjoy a favourite winter activity for free. Within two hours of its opening at 10 a.m. Thursday, skaters were already gliding around the Oval’s 400 metre track – some quicker than others, but everyone making it at their own pace.
“It’s so wonderful to be able to skate outside,” said Carol McCauley, who had just finished her first skate of the season with her husband, Wally Seipp.
“We don’t even go to the rink anymore because we can just come here instead.” Though there were only a few skaters around on Thursday morning, Oval manager Jenn Nagle expects tens of thousands of people to visit between now and March 20, the scheduled end date for the season.
“I think it’s popular because people enjoy the sense of community skating outside can bring,” Nagle said.
To be sure, not everyone that takes advantage of the free skates is an expert – Nagle said many international students from local universities lace them up for the first time at the Oval – but there are railings to lean on if a fall seems imminent.
The ice was in great shape on Thursday, sparkling as the sun broke through the clouds above. According to Nagle, the maintenance crew had been working until 2 or 3 a.m. to get the surface ready for the thousands of skate blades that will soon be digging into it.
“Rain and snow is our worst nightmare,” she said. “Otherwise, we can maintain the ice without major problems up to 10 degrees.” As McCauley and Seipp packed up their skates, they knew they wouldn’t be gone for long.
“We try to get here at least twice a week,” she said. “Why wouldn’t we?”