AFTER years with nowhere to enjoy the tradition of outdoor ice skating in the centre of Bratislava, residents and visitors got a new skating rink just in time for Christmas.
The City of Bratislava opened its new public rink with a real ice surface on the Tyršovo Embankment of the Danube on December 18.
The city first gave locals a public outdoor skating rink during the Christmas season in 1999, but it was put on hold in 2005, Milan Vajda, spokesperson of the Bratislava city council, said at the opening of the new temporary rink.
In 2005, due to warm winters and obsolete freezing equipment, the ice rink was replaced by a rink with synthetic ice. But people did not get used to the artificial skating surface, complaining that it was too slow, and the rink was mostly empty.
“The public ice rink has a certain history in Bratislava,” he said. “After a break of a few years, this ice rink is the revival of a tradition that is part of every bigger European town.”
The rink is located between the Old and the New Bridges, near the site of the artificial beach that was set up this summer. Apart from a view of the Danube River, Bratislava Castle and the city skyline, the rink offers a heated refreshment zone, a change room with lockers, toilets and free skate rental.
The change room was particularly welcome – many skaters complained about the lack of changing facilities at the city’s previous rink location in Hviezdoslavovo Square.
One mother who brought her two children to try out the ice at the new rink said she was glad she could put their shoes and other things in a free locker, without having to watch them while she skated. Lucia also said she was grateful for more places to park.
“In the city centre, it was sometimes a problem to find a parking lot,” she said.
The rink is run by the City of Bratislava and T-Com. It cost several million crowns, but Ladislav Faith, the head of the marketing department at T-Com, declined to specify the exact cost.
The rink is scheduled to stay open until February 6, but it could stay open longer depending on the weather conditions and the public’s interest, Faith said. The rink uses a freezing technology that keeps the ice usable in temperatures up to 10 C.
“If the weather conditions let it keep running longer and people are interested, we would not rule out extending its operation,” he said.