Ice skating season gets off to smooth start in Shimla

Shimla, Dec 20 (IANS) Ice skating in Himachal Pradesh capital Shimla this winter season got off to a smooth start on Sunday morning with a thick mantle of ice covering the rink at Blessington Courts.

Some 30 skaters, mostly locals and visiting youngsters, lost no time in putting on their skates and manoeuvring deftly on the ice and having fun in the process.

Earlier, the trial runs for commencing skating at Asia’s biggest natural open rink here were conducted on December 17 and 19.

“Today (Sunday) morning, the first session of this winter season was successful. There was formation of considerable ice in the rink,” Bhuvnesh Banga, skating club secretary, told IANS.

Regular morning and evening skating sessions were slated to begin from Monday.

Normally, ice skating at the rink – set up in 1920 – usually begins towards the end of November or early December and continues till the middle of February.

However, a delay of more than a fortnight this year occured since the night temperatures stayed above the desired levels, preventing formation of natural ice sheet at the rink.

“We had a good session on Sunday morning. We hope presence of thick ice every day from now onwards will lead to fun-filled skating sessions this year too,” skater Komal Sud said.

Her friend Pooja Thakur said they planned to enjoy skating during the winter break in schools.

The natural skating rink in the ‘Queen of Hills’, as Shimla is popularly known, was the brainchild of an Irish military official Blessington who lived here during the British Raj.

He inadvertently kept a bucketful of water outside his home and found it frozen the next morning. He soon created a small skating rink of his own.

Old-timers recall that as compared to over 150 sessions, nowadays the rink in this summer capital of the British holds 50 to 60 ice skating sessions on an average from December to February.

Last winter, 45 ice skating sessions were held.

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