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Nice Ice

 Ice lovers paint the picture of Bend’s new ice rink

The start of this year marks a new chapter for the city of Bend—and for the ice skaters who live here.

The city is now home to its first-ever seasonal ice rink, an $11.4 million facility called the Pavilion, which offers skating from November through March and warm-weather sports the rest of the year. Though the rink offers plenty of open skating times, hockey, curling and figure skating programs are all taking off there as well. We got a little color from each camp on the new rink, how it will change ice sports in Bend and what it will mean to the community.

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The hockey player

If ice is in the blood of anyone in Bend, it may very well be Scott Wallace. Not because he’s cold-hearted, but because there may not be another name tied as closely with hockey and the new rink in Bend than Wallace.

Now president of a namesake geotechnical firm, Wallace grew up in Bend the son of Roland “Wally” Wallace. The latter, a Canadian, was an avid hockey fan who played semi-professionally and who would take his kids ice skating on a concrete slab that the Bend Parks and Recreation District would flood every winter. The elder Wallace also started youth and adult hockey programs at what is now the Seventh Mountain Resort, programs he was involved with for more than three decades.

“I remember my dad loading 10 or 12 kids into his station wagon on Saturday mornings for practice,” Wallace says. “I have a lot of fond memories from then.”

A hockey enthusiast himself, Scott Wallace moved back to Bend after some time away in 1997. Just over eight years ago, determined to make a permanent ice rink a reality, he ran for and won a spot on BPRD’s board of directors.

“It was the primary project I wanted to bring to the board,” says Wallace, who coaches and plays hockey himself. “I got involved in a lot of other things over the years, but my main reason was to promote and advocate for a real ice rink for the community. That was the goal and vision that my dad had for years.”

Though Wallace’s father passed away two years ago, he did live long enough to see voters pass the bond that funded the new rink. Wallace says his father will be honored in a few different ways at the rink, including the annual awarding of the Wally Wallace Cup. But perhaps an even bigger legacy will come from the increasing number of hockey players who will have a place to hit the ice in Bend.

“It’s very gratifying and it’s very exciting, especially after all the work that not only my family, but a lot of other people have put into this,” Wallace says. “We’ve got this skating and hockey culture that’s been here for a long time, and now we have a facility that we can use to grow and promote it. I think Bend is definitely going to be on the map and a place where ice sports are an important part of what we do in the wintertime.”

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The curler

It happened well over 10 years ago and thousands of miles away from Bend, but it’s something that Tom Pietrowski has never forgotten—and probably never will.

“It was one of those things that you try and get hooked on instantly,” he says. “I was hooked instantly the first time I threw a stone.”

The stone that so enthralled Pietrowski was a curling stone, and his first go at the game happened when he lived in Wisconsin more than a decade ago. But after playing for a few years, he moved to Bend in 2005 and had to all but give up the game.

“It really surprised me that in a mountain town there wasn’t a full-size ice rink,” says Pietrowski, a physical therapist. Over the years, he heard talk of an ice rink coming to town, and when the idea finally became a reality, Pietrowski wanted to make sure the curling contingent had a seat at the table. It’s a good thing he did. As it turns out, there are a lot of people who feel the way Pietrowski does about curling.

“Within five weeks of posting the program, we had 130 people signed up,” he says. “The response has been huge.”

Some of that may just be newcomers looking to try their hands at what is still a relatively obscure sport, but Pietrowski said there are also lots of hardcore fans who have been waiting for this new opportunity for years. Either way, Pietrowski says curling will be a great addition to the new rink and to the greater community.

“To me, curling and the culture of Bend are a perfect fit,” he says. “It’s a sport that is friendly, but can still be made to be highly competitive and strategic. And then at the end of the game, you share a pint or a scotch. It’s the perfect sport for Bend.”

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The figure skater

Trish Havlin has carved out many miles on the ice in her time.

Now a special education teacher at High Desert Middle School, the former East Coaster first hit the ice as a five-year-old. She later coached skaters in New York, and when she moved to Bend 10 years ago, she dove right in to help develop learn-to-skate programs and skating schools. Along the way, she has also been producing, choreographing and participating in all kinds of skating exhibitions

The new rink, she says, is being welcomed by local figure skaters with open arms.

“We have a lot of demand here; there are already 150 skaters signed up for the skating program,” Havlin says. “And this is just the beginning.”

Now chair of the Figure Skating Committee for the nonprofit Bend Ice, Havlin is developing the club figure skating program for the new rink. She’s been working with U.S. Figure Skating and other clubs in Oregon on that program, which she says will be a competitive, standards-based club. It will set the stage for the future of organized figure skating in Bend, which Havlin says will know no boundaries going forward.

“I am most excited about giving skaters a sense of place in their community,” she says. “We live in a winter wonderland, and figure skating is just another place for folks to engage in the joy of our local environment.”

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