Warm weather poses problems for Norris ice rink


Courtesy of James McHaley

The Norris ice skating rink has been out of commission for most of this week due to warm weather. The rink was open for less than a week last Winter Quarter because of unseasonably warm weather.

Zack Harris, Reporter

Those planning on ice skating this winter better start wishing for colder weather.

The Norris University Center Ice Rink opened Monday, but warm weather has made it difficult to keep open.

“We want the rink to be used by as many people as possible, but the ability to be open is surely determined by weather,” Norris interim director Amy White said.

This is not the first time that Norris staff has dealt with varying weather conditions in relation to the rink, which was first installed behind Norris during Winter Quarter three years ago.

“The first year was very cold, and we were open most days,” White said. “But last year, because of the warm weather, we were not open very much.”

James McHaley, assistant director of Norris, said the ice rink was officially open only three or four days the entire quarter due to “unusually warm weather.”

To keep skaters informed on when they can use the rink, Norris is utilizing social media. Using the Twitter account @norriscenter, the staff can notify skaters about when the rink is open or closed in real time.

On Monday, Norris Center tweeted that the opening was delayed due to the temperature. Then in the early afternoon, Norris Center sent out a new tweet saying the rink would open in just a couple minutes and remain open until 11 p.m.

The rink was open Tuesday morning but closed at 12:30 p.m.

Last January, policies were enacted that would have allowed groups to reserve the rink for events or hockey, but the warm weather forced many cancelations. The hard-to-predict weather continues to pose an issue for planning events and outings at the rink.

“Next Friday, weather permitting, we should have an event as part of the 40th anniversary of Norris Center,” McHaley said. “But, again, that’s weather permitting.”

White said Norris staff does not usually allow students to reserve the rink, but they are willing to be flexible with student requests.

For the third year, the Norris ice skating rink is free for students, faculty, staff and their guests. For students who do not have skates, Norris Outdoors offers rentals for $3.

While remaining optimistic for a colder winter than last year, the Norris staff recognize that Mother Nature controls the fate of the ice rink.

“Based on the forecasts, after the next couple of days, the weather looks pretty promising,” McHaley said.

Despite its lack of use the past few seasons, students are quick to highlight the advantages of having an ice rink on campus.

“I can avoid the long lines at rinks in Chicago by using the one here on campus,” Weinberg senior Tyr Wiesner-Hanks said. ”I bought skates this year, so I’m excited to start using the rink.”