Skaters here are a happy lot as a thick layer of ice enveloped Asia's only natural ice skating rink in this Himachal Pradesh town on Thursday, thanks to the sharp fall in temperature.
"This morning (Thursday), we noticed a thick layer of ice on a large portion of the rink. This indicates that the night temperature has dipped sharply. If such conditions continue, we will be in a position to start skating sessions from Saturday," Shimla Ice Skating Club secretary Bhuvnesh Banga told IANS.
He said, "as the Met department predicts crystal-clear skies and no cloudy formation in the next few days, the night temperature is likely to fall further."
The club authorities sprinkle water on the clay ground of the rink which freezes under natural conditions.
The meteorological office here said Shimla recorded a low of 3.1 degrees Celsius on Thursday, a decline of 5.1 degrees from Wednesday.
"We are desperately waiting for the start of skating. This (Thursday) morning's chill has given us some hope," said Neha Sood, a young skater.
The skating club holds two sessions a day - 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. - depending on the ice formation. Last winter, the first session was held Nov 27 and there were 77 sessions in all.
The club created a record of hosting 165 sessions in 1960-61. However, in the early 1980s, the sessions ranged from 110 to 120.
The club is affiliated to the Ice Skating Association of India and the Winter Games Federation of India. The first national ice-skating championship was organised here by the Indian Olympic Association in 2000.