Delayed by almost two weeks, the winter skating season at Asia’s only natural ice skating rink at Shimla is likely to begin in the next few days. Authorities will test out the ice on Thursday to check if the rink is ready to be opened the season.
This is the second consecutive year when the season did not commence in the first week of December. Usually, freezing at the nine-decade-old rink begins in the last week of November or first week of December.
“The current temperature and the cloudy sky are not suitable for freezing at the rink, which is required for skating,” a rink official said.
Ice Skating Club executive member Rajat Malhotra said the rink would hopefully freeze overnight on Wednesday, and would be tested on Thursday. “If found suitably frozen, the rink would be opened for the season the next day,” he added.
Malhotra said several skating enthusiasts had been inquiring about the skating season, but had to be turned away.
A Shimla-based skater, Navya Sharma said, “The weather now seems favourable for natural freezing. I hope the skating season will begin soon.”
The Ice Skating Club normally holds two sessions a day — from 8 am to 11 am and from 5:30 pm to 8 pm.
An average number of 50-60 sessions are held every year, but in 2014, there were only 35 sessions, while in 2009, it hosted only 27 sessions, the lowest in the rink’s history.
During the British Raj, the rink was a tennis court, which was converted into an ice skating rink in 1920 by an army official, Blessington, who after finding water taps and even trickles of water frozen in the court’s vicinity, flooded it with water, to find it frozen after sometime.