The Hobart

Loss of Rink Sinks Dreams of Tassie Ice Sports Community

by Peta Hen
Loss of Rink Sinks Dreams of Tassie Ice Sports Community

In May 2022, the Tasmanian ice sports community had the ice taken out from under them with the closure of Tasmania’s only permanent ice rink. Ice Sports Tasmania President Anna Holliday spoke to us about the ongoing impact on the ice sports community and their hopes for the future.

Tell us about the current situation for ice sports in Tasmania. In May last year, Tasmania’s only (privately owned) ice rink was sold, and re-purposed by its new owners. This means there is no ice rink in Tasmania. Since the sale of the rink, emotions have been high as the hundreds of athletes (figure skating and ice hockey) and community members who utilised the rink weekly for competition, recreation and fitness are devastated to no longer be able to participate in the sports they love. Tasmania is now the only state in Australia without a permanent ice rink. Our community is desperate for this situation to be resolved. Our athletes miss their sports, and our community misses a valued social space for connection and fun. Ice sports are unique and participants are reliant on a frozen surface.

Ice Sports Tasmania Inc. (IST) conducted a Community Impact Survey earlier this year to capture and understand the impacts of the rink’s closure. This is what one of the participants had to say. “I’m sad, depressed and I’m the loneliest I’ve ever felt in my life. Hockey was everything to me, it’s all I had and it got me through some tough times. I don’t have motivation, I’m socially isolated and a feeling of aloneness haunts me.”

Has there been progression towards a new rink in Tasmania? In December 2022, the Tasmanian government commissioned a feasibility study to assess the viability and practicality of establishing a new ice rink in Tasmania. We are still awaiting the outcome of this study. Meanwhile, we are concerned for the mental health and well-being of our ice sports community, who are regularly and consistently sharing their increasing distress and negative impact of not being able to ice skate.

What does training and competing look like now for Tasmanians? For ice hockey, we have players travelling interstate to participate in ice hockey camps, clinics, tournaments and league games. They also have the opportunity to participate in local inline hockey, which offers several benefits that complement ice hockey skills. However, figure skaters have a trickier time switching to another sport to gain the same benefits. Tassie’s figure skaters are travelling interstate regularly to participate in lessons, competitions and maintain their skills on the ice. As time goes on, less people can afford to travel interstate to train and compete.

Hobart figure skaters need ice to keep their skills sharp. Pic: Ice Sports Tasmania

What needs to happen for the future of Ice Sports in Tasmania? The establishment of a new ice rink facility in Tasmania is the next step! We want that facility to provide a dedicated space for ice sports training, competitions, recreational skating, catering to the needs of athletes, enthusiasts and the community. We have also advocated that a new facility have the capacity to manage growth in our local ice sports, and to include at least one Olympic-sized surface so that our athletes can train and compete on a level playing field with their interstate competitors.

The future for ice sports in Tasmania has great potential. With the right investments, continued community involvement and our dedication to achieving a fit-forpurpose facility, a new rink will provide a space for fostering talent, promoting healthy lifestyles and building a vibrant ice sports community.

The Hobart Magazine contacted Nic Street, Minister for Sport and Recreation about the progress of the feasibilty study. He shared, “The feasibility study is progressing and a facilities option paper is being prepared as part of the study to assist our Government in determining the best way forward for ice sports in Tasmania. The option paper is expected to be received in the coming months and we will have more to say at that time.”

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May 2024

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