Minnesotans are learning to love icy surfaces again

Winter ice events return with January freeze

Winter ice events return with January freeze

A smooth state of bliss.

“Feels good to be outside and finally see some sunshine and fresh air,” declares Austin Tiffany

Tiffany and his kids spent part of Friday afternoon at Glen Lake Park, in Minnetonka, where the ice rink opened for the first time this season.

“You know, as a hockey player, I just like skating,” explains Tiffany’s 9-year-old son Nolan. “Just fun to be on the ice, right after school. Perfect temperature to be honest.”

The family was enjoying the calendar-appropriate weather, after a relatively warm December.

That includes 7-year-old Eliza, who says she’s excited about the return of wintery conditions.  

“Because I like sledding and ice skating a lot,” she smiles.  

We found some Minnesotans at Lake Harriet trying other things, like ice-bicycling… Or ice-walking… The dog.  

It turns out there are a lot of people celebrating solid lake surfaces and chillier temps.

“Ah, it feels wonderful,” exclaims Erin Lavelle, the Artistic Director for Art Shanty Projects. “I am a winter enthusiast. I love winter, it’s my favorite season.”  

She says it wasn’t long ago that the lake ice wasn’t in the best of shape.

“There was open water on the lake last Saturday,” Lavelle notes.

After project participants cut holes in the ice and measured it, they now say there’s a solid foot-thick surface to support the nineteen art shanties that will be on display.

“We’ve been measuring the ice every day since it started coming in,” Lavelle explains. “There’s no other feeling in the world like being in the middle of a frozen lake.”

She says participants will start installing their art shanties on Saturday morning.

The event officially kicks off on Saturday, Jan. 27.  

On Lake Nokomis, they’re celebrating, too.

“This morning I was there, and it was terribly cold,” Jim Dahline laughs. “Wonderfully cold, I should say.”

Dahline, the Commissioner of the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, says the rinks were ready to go on Friday morning, after several weeks of warm weather uncertainty.

The Championship Game is to be played Sunday, but there will be other events coming up next week, through the following weekend.

“And it’s a great thing,” Dahline says. “The colder it is, the better it is for us right now. It can’t get too cold for us right now.”