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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of November 6 - 12, 2002


Hailey scores hat trick

Valley volunteers erect 
public hockey rink

Express Staff Writer

It appears Christmas will come a little early this year for Wood River Valley hockey players lamenting a looming shortage of winter-season ice time.

Sun Valley Senior League star Gunnar Whitehead, left, was aided by Sun Valley Suns players James Moskos, center, and Paul Baranzelli, center-right, as he cut lumber Saturday to build the side boards for Hailey’s new hockey rink. Express photo by Willy Cook

Braving unseasonably frigid temperatures Saturday, 40 some hockey players and skating enthusiasts volunteered their time and carpentry skills to build a full-sized hockey rink on the east side of Hailey’s Roberta McKercher Park.

Over the course of the day, workers converted a colossal pile of lumber into an 82-foot by 178-foot oval of solid boards, taking only brief breaks to sip hot coffee, eat hearty chili and warm their hands by an outdoor wood stove.

"This is a fantastic turnout and show of support," said volunteer Rob Santa, a Hailey resident and owner of Sturtevants Ski and Sports in Ketchum and Hailey. "It’s really fascinating to be part of the solution, instead of the problem, whining that there’s no hockey."

Volunteers Saturday afternoon carefully set side boards into specific positions that were designated by a computer-generated design created by structural engineer Scott Grill. After the boards were put in place, they were reinforced from numerous points to withstand the force of flying hockey pucks and players. Express photo by Willy Cook

The rink—complete with access doors and ramps—received several finishing touches on Sunday. It is expected to be open to the public by mid-December.

"We’ll start putting the ice down around Thanksgiving weekend, and we hope to be skating by Dec. 15," said Hailey resident Ron Fairfax, president of the Hailey Ice Park Committee.

The ambitious project is the brainchild of Fairfax and other members of the committee, which has operated for the past four years as a registered nonprofit organization. The group during the last three winters has raised funds and organized efforts to install and maintain ice surfaces at Roberta McKercher Park, but has never erected an enclosed hockey rink.

"The reason we’re building this facility this year is because the rink in Sun Valley will be closed for parts of the season," Fairfax said Saturday while overseeing an assembly line of workers piecing together 8-foot sections of plywood boards.

Ron Fairfax  Express photo by Willy Cook

Indeed, the indoor ice rink at the Sun Valley Lodge—the valley’s primary hockey facility—will be closed for several weeks during the winter season. Sun Valley Co. plans to use the site for large conventions that could not be placed in the Sun Valley Inn’s Limelight Room, which is closed through the winter for renovations.

Fairfax said he and other workers will not only put a maintainable layer of ice inside the rink, but will also create an ice-skating surface on about two-thirds of the remaining open area at the park. Eventually, ice will cover approximately 60,000 square feet of the park on a base of packed snow.

"We’ll use about 250,000 gallons of water to establish the initial sheet of ice, and then we’ll add layers over time," he said.

Fairfax explained that the Hailey Ice Park Committee essentially started in his garage, around the same time he acquired a Zamboni—a tractor-like machine used to smooth ice—from Canada. The group has eight board members, including Hailey residents Scott and Diane Heiner, and Jim Santa, manager of Sturtevants Ski and Sports’ Hailey store.

Fairfax said the group expects to spend approximately $5,000 to complete the Hailey rink. The money came from community-wide fund-raising campaigns, and additional help came from several valley businesses. Anderson Lumber of Ketchum sold the wood for the project at wholesale cost, and Taft Construction of Ketchum cut and curved the end boards to computer-specified configurations.

Fairfax noted that he plans to have local landscapers do snow removal at the facility, and will attempt to resurface the ice with the committee’s Zamboni once per day.

Technically, the structure will be donated to the city government, but will be made available for public use in future winters, he said.

Rob Santa, who is also a past president of Sun Valley’s junior hockey league, said he was particularly pleased that players from several different leagues—including the Sun Valley Suns and the Sun Valley Fury women’s team—volunteered to help build the rink.

"We used to have a rink where you could push the puck around between snow banks, but this will be the real thing," Santa said.

Ketchum resident Paul Baranzelli, a lifelong hockey player who currently skates for the Suns, said he volunteered to show his support for the sport and the community.

"It’s nice to give something back to the game after playing for 19 years," he said. "This is such a beautiful valley and a wonderful place to live, I just wanted to express my appreciation."



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