On Saturday, Jan. 21, the University of Connecticut officially opened its outdoor skating rink near the Philip E. Austin building. The ice skating rink has been a tradition at UConn for several years but with varying results. For the rink to be open, the weather conditions have to be just right, or else the large body of water that makes up the rink looks more like a giant reflecting pool rather than a winter wonderland. The temperature required: 24.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature this previous Saturday: 30 degrees.
It’s a bit of a bummer to have the main attraction not be available for usage. However, there were a number of other activities for students to indulge in, a big positive being the snacks and drinks. For anyone who’s ever stood out in the cold at dusk, food goes a long way in making the experience that much more bearable, especially with the 12 miles per hour winds that we experienced. To keep warm, there were plastic and inflatable igloos that were brightly lit in case the bonfires weren’t doing the trick (they also made for great photo opportunities).
There was also a silent disco, where headphone-wearing students were able to jam out while listening to the same song as everyone around them. It’s truly the thing of dreams, allowing you to enjoy music with others without disturbing anyone else. Near the silent disco booth, there was also a nearly two-story tall inflatable slide. In terms of slide-ability, it was more like bouncing down an inflatable wall rather than a smooth slip down. If heights and slides weren’t your thing, there was also a target game involving throwable snowballs.
Overall, the rink’s grand opening fell a little flat on the ice — ironically due to the lack thereof. While UConn claims that the conditions have to be perfect for ice skating to take place outdoors, this isn’t technically true. Bigger ice skating rinks, like the one in Hartford for Winterfest, manage to stay open even in 40 degree weather because they use a chiller to keep the ice frozen.
Some students were rather disappointed that the ice rink wasn’t usable.
“Yes, I’m disappointed,” said Jon Cumento, a sixth-semester mechanical engineering major. “I thought I was going to be ice skating.”
As most went out expecting to strap on some skates and glide across the ice, it was dissatisfying for students to see a shallow pool of water instead.
“The big slide and igloos were cool, but it was missing something that made you want to stay,” said Ethan Garcia, a sixth-semester molecular and cellular biology major. “The ice rink was the main event and it wasn’t even open. It doesn’t feel great as a commuter student to go to an event and leave in 10 minutes.”