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Glacier Ice Rink sees more skaters, increased utility bills with warm temps

Utility bill increased to $13,000 in November
Glacier Ice Rink
Pineview Park ice rink remains closed
Posted at 3:35 PM, Dec 15, 2021

MISSOULA — Operations at Glacier Ice Rink are back in full force for the holidays following a season of social distancing and capacity limits due to COVID-19.

“We're right in the heart of our busy season," Glacier Ice Rink executive director Laura Henning told MTN News.

This marks the last week of the youth and adult hockey programs before a break.

“Our youth program is actually the busiest it's ever been. We have almost 600 kids participating in it this year," Henning said.

Saturday will kick-off two weeks of public skating. Pre-registration for the sessions — which will be capped at 150 people — is required this year.

Pineview Park ice rink remains closed
Pineview Park ice rink remains closed in Missoula.

“What we learned last year with COVID was people actually liked having fewer people on the ice and so this year, we're carrying forward our capacity limits on public skating programs," Henning said.

The traditional winter activity has seen a change this season, as warm temperatures prevented ice from forming at outdoor parks. “It's definitely weather-related to get some of those rinks going, and it gets harder and harder each year it seems like," Henning said.

While this doesn’t necessarily get in the way of the nonprofit’s icy infrastructure, the refrigeration system used has to work much harder.

The outdoor rink runs from October through March with the help of an ammonia-based system that sucks out the heat — similar to your at-home fridge that keeps those veggies cool year-round.

Glacier Ice Rink

November — which was the fourth warmest since records started being kept in Missoula — brought temperatures in the 50s and 60s. The utility bill for Glacier Ice Rink increased to $13,000 that month. It's typically between $9,000 and $10,000 on a bill in the winter.

“We know it's gonna be expensive. But aside from staffing costs, utility bills are definitely the highest cost that we have operationally. We're nonprofit, so that's kind of always plays into it, but that's why we do fundraisers or we ask people for donations this is to help offset a lot of those operational costs," Henning explained.

Glacier Ice Rink kicks off its holiday skating this Saturday with Skate with Santa at 12:30 p.m. and an Ugly Sweater Skate at 5:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required.