Since it opened a year ago, Singapore’s first and only Olympic-size ice rink, The Rink, has been seeing a lot of action. The 60 by 30 metre rink, complete with a 460-seat gallery, has been actively living out its mandate to support ice sports in Singapore, hosting a slew of events.
“We have been working closely with National Sports Associations (NSAs) like the Singapore Ice Skating Association and Singapore Ice Hockey Association (SIHA). As Singapore’s only Olympic-size ice rink, we are able to provide athletes with a proper and regular place to train,” said Maggie Chua, Centre Manager, JCube.
Most recently, it hosted the Singapore Invitational Ice Hockey Tournament, the 8 th annual ice hockey competition in collaboration with SIHA. The event saw players of varying ages, some as young as eight, from all over the world. Over five nights, 18 adult teams across three divisions and teams from four youth divisions (Under 8, Under 10, Under 12 and Under 15) competed for the trophies.
Ice Ice Baby
It was the first time since 2008 that the tournament was being played in Singapore. Until then, there had been no ice rink large enough to facilitate ice hockey. The tournament also scored other firsts.
“This is the first time that we have so many teams playing in the tournament. There are 21 teams in all. It is also the first time that we have been able to play with a full team. Previously, the rinks were not big enough so we had to play four a side,” said Vice President, Singapore Ice Hockey Association, Alphonsus Jude Joseph.
The Open Category final saw the Singapore Manimals A defeating the Singapore Hawkers over two thrilling 20-minute halves. With a total of 68 matches played over five nights, fans were certainly kept on the edge of their seats.
The Rink’s facilities also met with great approval from both players and fans.
“This is one of only a few rinks in Southeast Asia that has proper facilities like locker rooms and showers. The ice is also very smooth, [which facilitates the game],” added Joseph.
Daniel Chew, the only Singaporean in the largely Canadian and American team called Singapore Hawkers, is particularly appreciative of The Rink.
“I have been playing ice hockey for more than half my life, since I was 15. Finding a place to train has always been a challenge. For the last three years, we didn’t have a rink to train in. Many of us resorted to making trips to Malaysia to play,” said Chew.
The only female member of the team Hong Kong Hitmen, 16-year-old Estelle Ip who hails from Hong Kong, was also all praise for The Rink. Ip, who is a Forward, has been playing ice hockey since she was seven.
“I love it. I love the space and the fact that the ice is so smooth. I’m definitely going to come back again either to skate on my own or to play ice hockey with my team,” she enthused.
The tournament also thrilled non-ice hockey players. Iffah and Matthew Boyd were shopping and having dinner at JCube on Saturday when they chanced on the announcement about the ice hockey tournament at The Rink.
“We decided to go in for a look because we were surprised it was free,” said Boyd. “We had such a good time, we are thinking of coming back tomorrow for the last matches.”
The buzz created by the event was everything JCube had expected.
“The tournament was a success. It generated interest within the community in ice sports. We are also pleased that JCube saw higher shopper traffic during the tournament,” noted Chua.
Come Curling with Me
But JCube is not stopping here. It is venturing further into the world of ice sports by partnering The Equatorial Curling Club to promote curling in Singapore by providing its members with a place to practice.
Curling is a winter sport and has been an Olympic event since 1998. It involves sliding a 20-kilogramme stone across a sheet of ice 45 metres long and four metres wide until the stone comes to rest on any of the rings or “houses” painted at the end of the stretch of ice. Because the stone never travels in a straight line but curves or curls (hence the name), the challenge is in the kind of sweeping motion employed to influence the trajectory of the stone.
“There is also plenty of mental effort - deciding where to place the stone and how hard to throw it. Because no brute strength is required, women can play against men on equal terms. The very young can compete against the elderly,” explained Ronald Popeski, a member of The Equatorial Curling Club.
“So, curling is a perfect sport for Singaporeans, both as a vehicle for mass participation and social interaction and, over time, we hope to organise a small league.”
More Cool Fun
In March, The Rink also hosted the Singapore National Figure Skating Championships and come June, there will be more cool activities. A Summer Ice Camp is in the works. A series of skating classes will be held in the school holidays during which participants can pick up basic skating skills in four 45-minute lessons every week. After each lesson, there will be a two-hour practice session to allow campers to put into practice the skills taught.
Singapore may be a tropical island in the sun. But with The Rink in full swing, we can certainly look forward to some cool activities in the months and years to come!