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Backyard Skating Rink

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Outdoor fun isn't always easy to find during the coldest, darkest months of the year. But Jeremy Sibold has a slippery solution: Each year, the dad of two builds a 1200-square-foot ice rink in his family's Essex Junction backyard.

To start, Sibold cuts sheets of plywood in half, making enough 4-by-4-foot panels to serve as walls for a 30-by-40-foot rink. He supports the walls with metal and wooden garden stakes. Then he covers the ground within the rink with a plastic liner; this will hold water in the frame until it turns to ice. The liner costs $80 to $100 and can last up to two years. The Sibolds let water from the garden hose run into the rink for six to eight hours until it's two to four inches deep. Then, they wait for the liquid-to-solid transformation.

Ben Sibold, 8, doesn't play ice hockey, but he loves to skate just as much as his hockey-playing big brother, Sam, 10. Their dad says the rink is at its best in the dark. "On a winter night, we'll get a fire going outside and the lights shining on the rink," he says. "Neighbors and friends stop by, and all the kids will be skating. We love it, and it really isn't that much work."

Parents: Jeremy and Sonya Sibold

Kids: Sam, 10, Ben, 8

Tips for backyard rink success:

  • Set up your rink on level ground. It will save time, and water, to have a uniform ice thickness from end to end.
  • Timing is everything. Flood the rink when the forecast predicts temperatures in the 20s or lower for a couple of days, with no precipitation.
  • Snow is the enemy of a smooth skating surface. Shovel off the white stuff quickly after a storm.
  • Your rink will lose its perfect glossy surface over time. Freshen it up by flooding the top of the ice with water on a clear, cold night.
The original article stated the ice rink as being 120-square feet. It was later changed to the correct size of 1200-square feet.

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