Big Dipper Repairing Ice After Puck Hits Sprinkler, Causes Flood

FAIRBANKS — An errant puck forced Big Dipper Ice Arena to close the ice rink for two days this week, and another week of closures is being planned for the future. The facility’s walking track remained open.

The puck struck the head of a fire-suppression sprinkler Monday morning, knocking the head off and dumping hundreds of gallons of dirty, rusty water onto the ice.

Director of Parks and Recreation Michael Bork said crews are using Zambonis to smooth out the ice and remove “black, nasty smelling” water.

The strategic shaving should allow for the ice to reopen today, Bork said. However, water damaged the white paint underneath the ice. Repairs will require completely taking the ice out in the near future.

Taking the ice out is process that takes between a week and 10 days and costs around $10,000, according to Bork. After compressors chilling the ice are turned off, crews must work with heavy equipment to remove the ice before it melts and floods the building.

It then takes two or three days to remove the existing white coating and power wash and scrub the concrete’s surface so new ice properly adheres. Compressors are then turned back on before an “elaborate and planned reapplication of ice,” Bork said.

Many individual layers of ice are applied and bonded together. It also takes “a full day, at least” to paint all the zone lines and circles in the ice, Bork said.

Bork is trying to plan the Big Dipper’s new ice at a time when the Patty Ice Arena isn’t closed. He expects it to begin the week of July 6.

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