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New Canaan Winter Club Renovation Skates Ahead

NEW CANAAN, Conn. — Even though the only thing you see is a huge slab of concrete where the ice surface usually rests, the renovation of the 55-year-old rink at the New Canaan Winter Club is right on schedule, President Ken Gammill Jr. says.

The 8-inch thick slab of concrete, poured in the middle of last month, has cured. The rink’s new lights and boards will be erected before the end of August. And the outdoor rink’s seasonal opening is once again scheduled for the first week of November.

This summer’s renovation marks the third time the rink has been rebuilt; the most recent was 16 years ago.

“There’s a life expectancy to these things,” Gammill said. “The boards were beginning to sag and settle and were resting on the piping.”

The rink closed for the season in mid-March. Soon after, crews began to dismantle it and rip out the old pipes, which hold a refrigerant that helps create the ice surface. Heavy machinery was brought in to dig out 4 feet to 7 feet of earth to accommodate the new rink bed.

New fill and insulation were installed in the hole, and new pipes were added and covered by thick metal mesh. The concrete was poured on top of the snaking pipework and mesh. Eventually, the ice surface will rest on top of the slab. The pipes cool the concrete, which, in turn, freezes the ice.

The Winter Club, located on Frogtown Road across from New Canaan Country School, planned and prepared for the renovation over the last three years but would not disclose the cost.

Despite the new rink bed and materials, one important aspect will remain: the wire fencing on top of the boards to keep flying pucks in play, instead of the plexiglass used by most rinks. The fence allows spectators to feel closer to the action, and it does not block the wind like plexiglass would, Gammill said.

“This place is steeped in tradition, and we want to keep it that way,” he said. “Our members love skating under the stars and love feeling the wind in their face.”

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