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About 30 years ago Kim Wilson noticed a 2-for-1 ice skating deal on a shopper docket, and sick of the gym and swimming she gave it a go.

“It took me two sessions to get hooked,” said Ms Wilson, who was 27 years old at the time.

“I liked it because as a sport it was so different, and you’re constantly learning and developing your skills.

“I know people who take it up in their 50s and 60s. It’s not just for kids.”

Now the head of sport and athlete development with Ice Skating Australia, Ms Wilson is part of a new group lobbying to secure the future of ice sports in Tasmania.

The state’s only ice rink has been for sale for more than a year and is yet to find a buyer to continue operating.

Its closure would make Tasmania the only state or territory without an ice rink, leaving more than 200 athletes without a training base and recreational use.

A young girl in a pink and black leotard is ice skating, holding one leg up horizontally
Tasmanian figure skater Nicole Mikoda says the closure of the rink would put an end to her dreams.(Supplied: Sophia Bender Films)

The newly formed peak body Ice Sports Tasmania today launched the emotive film Little Rink, Big Dreams to bolster the plight of ice sports.

It features the stories of young athletes in Tasmania, like figure skaters Nicole Mikoda and Kimberly Gentile.

Nicole said she has dreams to compete on the mainland.

“If I were to lose [the rink] all those dreams would be out,” she said.

Similarly for Kimberly, who said ice skating was a part of who she was.

The ice skating rink, Main Road, Glenorchy
The ice skating rink in Glenorchy has been operating for 40 years.(Supplied: Michael Brady)

No ‘pathway’ without rink

Ice Sport Tasmania president Anna Holliday said her family fell in love with the Hobart ice sports community.

“It’s extremely inclusive and supportive,” Ms Holliday said.

Her 12-year-old daughter Grace became a competitive figure skater after family visits to the rink.

“Our family has always visited the ice skating rink as a family recreation activity, even in my childhood,” Ms Holliday said.

“I continued that on with my children. Every school holidays we’d head to the rink for fun.”

The holiday fun soon turned into a passion for Grace.

“She’s got long-term goals for where she wants to take herself and her figure skating,” Ms Holliday said.

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Ms Holliday said athletes would have to move interstate to pursue the sport, or give it up.

“There’ll be no pathway for anyone to enjoy figure skating or ice hockey.”

A new rink

For more than 40 years the Kaitinis family owned and operated the Glenorchy rink which became well known for its Friday night discos.

The rink has been on the market since 2020 with no guarantees a buyer will continue its operation.

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Could Tasmania lose its only ice-skating rink?

Ms Holliday said Ice Sports Tasmania’s ultimate goal is for a new Olympic-sized rink in southern Tasmania which would need financial assistance from the government.

“We realise that’s many years in the making,” Ms Holliday said.

“The second element we are asking for is support to establish a semi-permanent rink to give continuity for the sport.”

Ms Wilson said even if the Glenorchy rink did stay open, it is dated and unable to facilitate curling or speed skating.

“There are people who don’t use the rink because it’s not fit for purpose,” Ms Wilson said.

A sign on the side of an ice skating rink
The mural on the side of the Glenorchy ice skating rink.(Supplied: NAI Harcourts)

Ms Holliday said Ice Hockey Tasmania, which oversees several clubs, has halted its activities while the rink’s future is in doubt.

“They are significantly at risk of not moving forward until they get a facility,” Ms Holliday said.

Olympic momentum

Many were captivated by the inspiring story of Australia’s curling team at the Winter Olympics.

Tahli Gill looks at her team mate Dean Hewitt and smiles.
Australia’s Tahli Gill (right) and Dean Hewitt after winning a mixed doubles curling match against Canada at the Winter Olympics.(AP: Nariman El-Mofty)

Ms Wilson said Tasmania could produce future Olympic curlers if it had the right facility, but the current rink can host neither curling nor speed skating.

“You’d bring in a whole host of new people.

“We’d be able set up and compete in curling, we could be a training base for curlers who could represent Australia in the Olympics.”

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