Cameron Schmidt says he has fond memories of playing hockey on outdoor skating rinks as a child.
So in order to provide his children with the same experience, Schmidt and a couple of his friends built their children their very own outdoor rink in the hamlet of Clairmont, which is on the outskirts of Grande Prairie.
Schmidt and his friend Scott Roessler work at an engineering firm and came up with the idea for not only the rink, but also for a homemade ice resurfacer, at work. They brought their friend and former co-worker Jonathan Phillips on board for the project as well.
“About three weeks ago I constructed the rink,” said Schmidt. “I flooded the ice night after night and eventually we wanted to improve the ice surface so we came up with the idea of making a nice Zamboni machine and this is what we came up with.”
What the trio came up with is what’s basically a quad, configured with a 150 litre tank of hot water in the back. The tank is connected to PVC piping systems and valves that go down to a bar the machine pulls along the ice. The bar has a towel attached to the back of it which smooths out the hot water and fills in the cracks in the ice.
“We didn’t do it for the attention,” says Schmidt. “We did it because we all grew up playing on the outdoor rinks, going there every single weekend and I don’t remember a lot of the minor hockey I played, but I remember the outdoor rinks and tying up my skates and skating with kids half my age and twice my age and getting frostbite on my toes and to me, that’s what hockey is about and that’s kind of what we wanted to give our kids ourselves.”
Schmidt is also a minor hockey coach and coaches five and six-year-olds on the rink. He said that they’ve been very enthusiastic about the rink and Zamboni.
The rink is located in a park across from the three men’s homes. Schmidt said the community is embracing the old-fashioned rink as well and that up to 60 kids have been on the ice at a time.