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Skateville: Peter Sherwood on DB Plaza’s new ice rink

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So we’re getting an ice rink in DB Plaza? That’s just cracked, writes Peter Sherwood.

Finally, it´s happened: an innovation beyond our craziest imaginings. Prayers have been answered. For the ungodly, your fierce and sustained wishes clearly worked their magic. Dreamers also did their bit. The result’s what matters. So, dance for joy, dear reader (if you’re Canadian). You have been blessed with an ice rink, a desperately needed addition to DB’s recreational wonderland.

Once it opens in the ‘gentrified’ plaza in April 2020, you’ll have easy access to the kind of rockhard H2O that cracks skulls and fractures inexperienced limbs. OK, it’s not going to be a ski jump to rival Norway’s monster Holmenkollbakken, but winter activities have to start somewhere and they couldn’t afford snow machines on the subtropical hills.

Had proponents of the new rink asked around to see who might want one, voting might have looked like this: Do you want an ice rink? No – 2,876. What’s an ice rink? – 19,495. Yes – Every Canadian in DB (and three Finns).

A Canuck obsession

With no conscious desire I turn now to the sole Canuck obsession. (Canadians obsessing about anything is considered ostentatious – or American.) Ice hockey is not a game you can just drop in on and enjoy. It’s a tradition you have to be born into for generations. Like Australia’s national pastime cricket, it is the basis of an entire national identity.

Arrive from another planet and land in an ice-hockey arena, and questions of sanity would arise. An extra-terrestrial visitor would be similarly nonplussed by my beloved cricket, a game that’s beyond intelligent description – for the uninitiated.

Ice hockey’s too slippery for a bouncing ball, so they flattened it, called it a ‘puck,’ and painted it black. (The name is related to the verb ‘to puck’ – a cognate of ‘poke’ – used in the game of hurling to mean ‘to strike or push the ball.’ It also derives from the Scottish-Gaelic ‘puc’ or the Irish ‘poc,’ meaning ‘to poke, punch or deliver a blow.’ Note: nonsense can indeed be educational.)

While the black puck looks good on a white ice background, it loses sharp relief when moving at 275 kilometres an hour. This is its speed most of the time, while grown men in padded clown suits charge about whacking each other with a 3-kilogramme lump of miraculously curved timber. Most heavily cushioned is the goalkeeper, a man of large proportions made giant-size by padding that makes him seem puny.

The actual goal is the size of a small dog kennel. A framed net is smothered by this monster of flailing limbs, who wears an entire sofa of protective wadding and Darth Vader headgear to soften the blows of numerous 3-kilogramme sticks raining down in unison. How the puck ever gets past the goalie, even at lightning speed, is as big a mystery as why millions pay billions to watch it happen.

You know the game is serious by the line of battle-hardened clones in the dugout. They sit there full of adrenalin, clutching their weapons and awaiting the chance to create havoc.

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