Steamboat Springs With temperatures soaring into the 90s in recent weeks, Howelsen Ice Arena manager Stacey Foster is hoping that more than a few locals will look to the arena as a place to cool off this August.
"We should have the ice sheet completed by Aug. 4," Foster said. "Everything seems to be going smoothly with our new system."
The ice arena has already begun the process of making ice and will be looking for volunteers tonight and Friday to help paint lines and logos on the ice from 5 until 9 p.m.
The opening, roughly six weeks ahead of last year, will make this the earliest date the rink has opened ever.
"Oh yeah, I'm really excited," local player Peter Van De Carr said.
"This will allow us to make the most of the shoulder seasons."
The rink's August opening will also allow the facility to host the Gold Medal Hockey Clinic and the Rocky Mountain Hockey School.
The Gold Medal Clinic, which will run Aug. 5-9, will feature Team USA members Laurie Baker, Karyn Bye, Tara Mounsey and Sara DeCosta. Division I coaches Ben Smith and Tom Mutch will also be in town for the camp, which is open to adult men and women, as well as youth hockey boys and girls.
The registration deadline for the camp is July 29 and forms can be picked up at Howelsen Ice Arena.
The clinics will focus on skating, stick handling, shooting, playmaking and scoring. The staff of Olympic competitors and division I coaches have the experience and advanced techniques to help players of all ages reach that next level of play.
Another camp is scheduled for Aug. 12-16, which will be hosted by the Rocky Mountain Hockey Schools. That camp will be limited to youth players.
But camps will not be the only things going at the ice arena this summer. Foster said the early opening would also allow adult hockey and public skaters to get a jump on the season.
The Summer-Fall Adult Hockey League will open play on Aug. 19 and run through Oct. 30. Players can join teams in the A/B 30-plus division or the co-ed recreational division. Returning players (from last year's fall and spring leagues) will have registration seniority and can sign up Aug. 5 and 6. Open registration for new players will begin Aug. 7 Registration closes on Aug. 12 at 5 p.m. and a draft will take place Aug. 14.
Teams will play one game a week until mid-September and two games a week after that.
The first public skating session will open at 3:45 p.m. Aug. 5. Public skates will take place almost every day, with the exception of Aug. 13 and Aug. 15, during the month. The rink will also feature adult drop-in and youth drop-in hockey sessions.
Foster said visitors to the rink might face a few minor inconveniences during the early part of the month. The operations of the rink are still in the process of moving from the modular to the west side. Foster said she anticipated having the move completed before the rink opened but may not make the deadline.
Construction on the latest addition to the rink will also begin in August. The front bump-out will eventually house the check-in, skate rental, sharpening, offices, vending machines and lobby. Ground breaking on that addition will begin in August and the construction should be completed by the holidays.
Until then, the main entrance will be the double doors on the west side facing the rodeo grounds and the retail business and registration will be conducted from the room at the south end of the main hallway.
Foster warns visitors to be patient and to pay attention to signs, which will be posted to help guide them through the construction maze.