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Bend ice rink moving from dream to reality

By Katie Higgins
Published On: Dec 18 2013 09:33:38 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 19 2013 02:34:00 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Katie Higgins finds out why there is no year-long indoor rink in Central Oregon.

BEND, Ore. -

Bend Parks and Recreation is one step closer to building the first regulation-size ice rink in Central Oregon. It's the first of its size, but it's not the first of its kind.

The Simpson Avenue Site and Pavilion will be an ice rink from November to March. 

It is designed to be an open-air, covered pavilion. There are other ice rinks in Central Oregon that are open half of the year as well, but this one will be regulation-sized.

Bend Parks and Rec officials said they weren't sure if the demand would be high enough for a year-round indoor rink.

"I mean, we have a little community of skaters here, and figure skaters make up half the community," Ashely Chally, ice skating director said.

The other half of the ice community is made up of ice hockey players and speed skaters of all ages.

"I have little boys that are so dedicated to figure skating, and I have girls that want to play hockey," Chally said Wednesday.

The community might be small.

"It's not like the Midwest," said Jim Figurski of Bend Parks and Rec. "It's not like back East or Canada. Hockey is not in our blood as yet."

Kids here still dream on ice, though.

"Every day, I have kids telling me they want to go to the Olympics," Chally said.

However, Central Oregon isn't the easiest place to make those dreams come true.

"It's not a sport that you pick up fast," Chally said.

But a four-month skating season means kids and adults have to learn quick.

"There just wasn't enough certainty that there would be enough demand," Figurski said.

That's why Bend Parks and Rec is building an outdoor rink. The perk for all those ice lovers is that this rink will be regulation-sized.

"Most of the ice sheets that are around our area are very small," Figurski said.

This one will be large enough for hockey teams to host tournaments here. It could possibly nab some exhibition games from professional teams.

Members of Bend Ice and Parks and Rec think this rink could launch the hockey community to new heights in a place where its growth has been checked.

In the future, Figurski said, "There might be a need to enclose this facility, or build a separate enclosed facility.".

For now, though, the tight-knit ice community that is here is happy to see a bigger rink on the way, for the time being.

They'll keep dreaming bigger, though.

"We're just all into the ice," Chally said. "It's just really fun."

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