Re-opening rinks with social distancing

Jozet

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Not sure when rinks will open, but when they do, I'm guessing using the ice and rink spaces is not going to look like what it used to, at least not for some time.

Does anyone know if USFSA is giving any guidance to clubs yet, or will it most likely come from the rinks? I know so much is unknown yet, but best guesses -- What might "getting back to skating" look like? How do we keep skaters and rink staff safe? What changes would make you feel safest?

What might testing or competitions (if any)look like, at least in the closer future?
 
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Debbie S

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USFS has been communicating with clubs, about comps and specific club activities. Right now, they are recommending cancellation of club events through the end of June (we officially canceled Chessie this week :( ). The opening of rinks is presumably up to rink owners/states/municipalities and will probably vary in different parts of the country. I would assume the priority will be to open restaurants and retail, likely with a limit on the number of people allowed inside, so I would expect rinks to have the same restrictions, at least at first. But it will likely depend on whatever the state's/region's rules are.

I don't think it would be feasible to have everyone wear a mask while they are skating, and that's likely not something rink mgmt wants to be responsible for enforcing, so my guess is it would be optional.

It's hard to know what comps will be feasible. Even if rinks reopen in June or July, will skaters want to compete even if comps were held this summer? Would they be ready for Regionals/Sectionals, and would skaters, coaches, families, officials, etc, want to attend a large comp in the fall? If we don't have a qual season, what would Nats look like? Will we even have Nats, and would it be held w/o spectators?

Test sessions are probably easier, b/c there are fewer people overall in the building and usually only a handful in the rink area at any given time. With only 3 judges, you could seat them far enough apart.
 

Rock2

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3,651
There are so many issues to consider, but I agree that state and municipal guidance / laws will drive what can happen. I agree, too that even if rinks are allowed to open there will be restrictions initially. And that raises another question relative to the rink being able to financially operate with capacity limited (and the restricted revenues that come with it).

As noted, different regions are going to upload at different times. If you're USFSA (or Skate Canada up here) you will preach fairness and build your nationals plans based on lowest common denominator states. So if key regions such as NY/NJ and Michigan for example are slow to upload you have to ask yourself if you can hold regionals and/or nationals in good conscience without participation from some important rinks and their athletes.

Same issue applies when you look at ISU championships. Will they be held if a material number of countries have not recovered and athletes are not back to training and/or flights allowed to leave the country?

Best case scenario is rinks open Aug/Sept and you hold one domestic event around December - an expanded nationals qualifier to prepare for nationals. GP and JGP are gone, you have 4CC, Euros, Jr Worlds and Regular worlds.

Medium scenario would have rinks open in the fall, worlds pushed back a month or two (because if you lose worlds then Olympics are a nightmare for qualifying etc), most nationals running around late Feb/early March. No Euros, 4CC or international junior events of any kind.

Worst scenario is this season doesn't happen. I truly believe sports and entertainment will take the major brunt of this situation, such that unless an effective treatment is identified we don't see much of any return of international sports with fans until late 2021/early 2022. Hate to say that out loud, but the more spread out your competitors are geographically and the more the sport depends on gate revenues to be viable the more trouble you're in.

I think tennis will suffer the worst among all recognizable sports. Skating will be rough, too but maybe individual federations will be able to create national level competitions until such time as international events are restored. Otherwise we'll see a ton of athletes drop out of the sport.

Fluid situation that starts with seeing global case rates start to crest so that timelines can start to become known. Really really need a treatment, and wide availability of quick tests to enable solutions.
 

Jozet

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2,100
Good info and thoughts, thank you!

My guess is that another big bugaboo when it comes to competitions or even test session, whether or not and when individual rinks open, will be the amount of travel allowed. Right now, for instance, we're allowed to recreate outdoors, but recommendations are to keep to within a 15 minute drive of your home. That means we would have trouble bringing in judges for test or competitions and it feels like allowing more skaters from former hot spot areas (NJ, Philadelphia) to our area (which is typical for competitions) might be too risky.

And again, not knowing how much surveillance there will be, I can see one competition with a few illnesses stemming from it suddenly putting skaters in quarantine and possibly shutting down rinks within a 100 mile radius.

My son plays hockey and I just can't see how there will be travel hockey this year. My suggestion was to have kids pick a rink to practice and play at, stick to in-house teams and games, just get skaters on the ice for now and support rinks, don't worry about the NHL right now -- just get on the ice, practice, have some pick-up or rink intramural team games.

Again, the more travel between rinks with skaters and coaches, the more risk there is that a mini-hot spot turns up and several rinks-worth of skaters and their families are affected.

I can't see packed lobbies and parents in stands, either. My suggestion was have skaters sign up for specific freestyle sessions, pay ahead, if you don't make it, no refund, limit the numbers that way. Walk in with your gear on and hard guards, get on the ice, get off the ice, leave the building. Coaches in masks.
 

hoptoad

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1,581
Club ice with limited numbers may be the first thing to come back. Far less contact than hockey! I don't know how feasible the business will be for rinks, but hopefully many skaters will at least be able to get on the ice and practice this summer.
 

Jozet

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2,100
Club ice with limited numbers may be the first thing to come back. Far less contact than hockey! I don't know how feasible the business will be for rinks, but hopefully many skaters will at least be able to get on the ice and practice this summer.
I think maybe some hockey skills sessions -- lord knows, 99% of those kids can do with some skating lessons ;) -- and stick and puck (no games/scrimmages/contact) could help rinks get more skates on the ice. I don't know how much rinks depend on public skate and Learn to Skate. Both would be problematic. But, I do think a lot of people want to get back at least a bit, so will be happy with a little ice -- spread need across the day more, so smaller class sizes in Learn to Skate or multiple classes.

Our rink has two full-size rinks and a "puddle," so using the classes can be broken up a bit more.

The big problem will be the lobby in our rink. Not a lot of space. Maybe only putting up one sheet and using the other rink as a lobby could help.
 

Debbie S

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Public sessions and LTS are major sources of income, as is contracted ice. However, it's the public sessions in the fall and winter that put rinks 'in the black' for the rest of the year. Since it's summer, lack of publics is not as much of a concern but if they won't be able to have publics during the coming fall and winter, that will be a big problem.

Hockey leagues contract a lot of ice so if they can't have games this year, that will also be a big loss. Skating clubs who contract ice could suffer losses if the amount of skaters is restricted. Normally capacity is 25 skaters, and my club is near or at capacity for a bunch of its sessions in the fall and winter. If we had to limit sessions to, say, 10 skaters, we would either have to charge more or take a loss, which would not be sustainable in the long run. :(
 

Jozet

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2,100
Public sessions and LTS are major sources of income, as is contracted ice. However, it's the public sessions in the fall and winter that put rinks 'in the black' for the rest of the year. Since it's summer, lack of publics is not as much of a concern but if they won't be able to have publics during the coming fall and winter, that will be a big problem.

Hockey leagues contract a lot of ice so if they can't have games this year, that will also be a big loss. Skating clubs who contract ice could suffer losses if the amount of skaters is restricted. Normally capacity is 25 skaters, and my club is near or at capacity for a bunch of its sessions in the fall and winter. If we had to limit sessions to, say, 10 skaters, we would either have to charge more or take a loss, which would not be sustainable in the long run. :(
Unless there is some miracle, I don't see public ice coming back any time soon. Not unless everyone is bringing their own skates and numbers are limited. Our rink has two sheets, so again, just putting up one sheet may keep costs down.

I think skaters aren't going to be able to skate 3+ sessions a day, multiple times a week, and will have to be happy with "a little bit for everyone." Our rink hosts the freestyle sessions; could rinks switch to that model to keep clubs afloat and skaters on the ice, in the meantime? I know our rink is worried about skaters giving it up all together, so a month or two of a little ice for everyone could keep people skating and not switching entirely to some other sport -- but not sure if that loss leader is affordable.

As far as hockey, again, I think kids just want to get on the ice -- it's the parents worried about their kids getting off-track on their way to the NHL (insert eyeroll). I think kids and adult players would pack the rinks with pick-up games all day (and night) long.

Learn to Skate is a tough one. I don't think you can start back up and bring in absolute beginners. There's so much falling down, crying, picking-up, parents pressing their faces against the glass. Maybe start with kids 8 and up or level 2 or 3 and up, give more advanced kids to older coaches.

But you're right, not sure how that number-crunches with rinks paying utilities, running ice resurfacers, keeping staff. Some rinks will close for good or not be able to open with the restrictions and may need to wait for Phase Whatever to open. I'm just trying to figure out how/whether this can work sooner rather than later. Mostly, because I'm procrastinating and not placing yet another grocery store order for my family that never stops eating! ;)
 

spinZZ

Member
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A critical issue that medical professionals have only started to consider is, What is the minimum safe social distance for a sport such as figure skating? The commonly cited safe social distance is 6 ft between persons. But that assumes that they are breathing normally, and that they are either stationary or moving slowly (e.g., walking). But in a sport such as figure skating, the skaters are breathing heavily and moving rapidly. With heavy breathing, sick skaters are more likely to expel larger volumes of contaminated droplets, and healthy skaters are more likely to inhale larger volumes of contaminated droplets. With rapid movement, healthy skaters are more likely to skate into contaminated clouds, previously expelled by sick skaters, before the contaminated clouds have dispersed or settled.
 

Jozet

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A critical issue that medical professionals have only started to consider is, What is the minimum safe social distance for a sport such as figure skating? The commonly cited safe social distance is 6 ft between persons. But that assumes that they are breathing normally, and that they are either stationary or moving slowly (e.g., walking). But in a sport such as figure skating, the skaters are breathing heavily and moving rapidly. With heavy breathing, sick skaters are more likely to expel larger volumes of contaminated droplets, and healthy skaters are more likely to inhale larger volumes of contaminated droplets. With rapid movement, healthy skaters are more likely to skate into contaminated clouds, previously expelled by sick skaters, before the contaminated clouds have dispersed or settled.
That is an important consideration. For children -- who seem to be carriers more often than actually getting sick -- it may not be as big a consideration, unless they start bringing it back to families. There common wisdom is they can shed ***** and pass is along, but one of my science-y friends just shared two studies -- one from China, one from Norway -- that showed almost a 0% transmission rate from children to adults. Still. There are coaches and adult skaters on the ice, and skating with a mask does not seem practical.

Maybe doing something like opening patch sessions, but that won't pay for most rinks.

One gym opening in Utah says they are screening each patron before allowing them into the gym, but that seems impractical as well. It may be that rinks don't open until much later. Which would stink, but it is what it is.
 

overedge

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Given the usual level of chaos on public skating sessions, I can't see those coming back any time soon unless the numbers are restricted and there is more actual supervision on the ice. Also because of what @Jozet mentioned with the crowding in the lobby.

I don't know about clubs. I'm sure there would be enough skaters wanting to come back, but for clubs that lease their ice, there usually has to be a certain number of skaters on each session to make the fees affordable. It would really be a shame if the fees went way up because only so many skaters were allowed on the ice at once. Skating is expensive enough as it is.

I also don't see synchro skating coming back any time soon, because of the numbers on the ice and the close contact among the team members :(
 

Yuri

Active Member
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401
My best guess is that ice rinks will reopen whenever health clubs reopen, probably the best analogy as these are spaces where there's no way it will work with masks. Probably the same time that swimming pools, tennis courts, and other shared athletic spaces open. I would imagine that opening will depend on the status of each state, some athletic centers are reopening as soon as this weekend, others remain closed indefinitely. My best guess is that at least in the USA, policy will gradually switch from one-size-fits-all to self-quarantine for high risk individuals, and a return to a semi-normal way of life for the younger and healthier. In other words, individuals will regain the ability to make their own risk assessments--and we will sort ourselves into those who want to remain in bubbles and those who understand that life itself is never risk-free. So I see the reopening of ice rinks staggered from May to July-August, depending on politics.
 

overedge

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In other words, individuals will regain the ability to make their own risk assessments--and we will sort ourselves into those who want to remain in bubbles and those who understand that life itself is never risk-free.
:rolleyes: Yes, life itself is never risk-free, but there's acknowledging that and still wanting to keep yourself safe. Especially against a disease that can be spread by asymptomatic people.
 

Jozet

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:rolleyes: Yes, life itself is never risk-free, but there's acknowledging that and still wanting to keep yourself safe. Especially against a disease that can be spread by asymptomatic people.
Thank you. I started to write a long reply to this and then decided "Eff it, I want to hear from people brainstorming safe solutions to a specific challenge, not Google-research mavericks making health decisions for themselves that will invariably affect those on the frontlines who have to ride in and save their butts while wearing week-old PPEs ."
 

Jozet

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How monitoring contacts would work.

Link from NPR story

This would be easier, I would think, if skaters were limited to skating at one rink, for the time being.

Thoughts on registering with one rink for practicing?

I know it would affect some coaching situations and possibly not having all the ice, BUT would limit how many rinks might have to shut down/skaters quarantine if a potential hot spot developed. Again, we're talking about a temporary situation, but if it helps get rinks open and keep them open....
 

GarrAargHrumph

I can kill you with my brain
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I wonder how an extended period without access to rinks will impact the future re: elite level skating and hockey. Already, I'm concerned that we won't get a lot of our Learn to Skate kids back. If this goes on for longer, these programs may need to rebuild from the ground-up.

In the US, the way I see it, rinks in some areas (NJ, for example) will reopen with strict social distancing rules that may last for quite some time, and rinks in other states will just... reopen (or open with some rules at first, then really reopen soon after.) This may mean that we'll see some skating training centers shift, geographically, to where there's more ice available. We'll have to see.

I also think that we'll see some rinks close permanently or change hands, if things don't open up soon. They rely so much on income from hockey that a season without large scale hockey may be the end of them.

In terms of teaching Learn to Skate if we're trying to do social distancing - there are real issues there. In rinks where the LTS sessions are crowded, they may need to cut enrollment if they're going to continue the program. They'd also need to work on "rink management", as others mentioned, in terms of getting people in and out of the facility, on and off the ice, etc.

For the classes themselves - I can teach the older LTS kids without being near them/touching them, but it would be harder to teach the little ones that way - they don't stay far enough away.

For freestyle sessions, I wonder if most rinks won't ignore/not even think about the "maybe we need to be more than 6 feet away from each other" thing, and will instead just cut the number of people allowed on the ice - if they even do that. Because if the max allowable number of people inside the rink building is, let's pretend, 350 people according to fire code, and they only allow 28 on a freestyle, they're already legally "social distancing". So we'll have to see if they actually do anything different from what they used to do, in terms of freestyle sessions.

This would be easier, I would think, if skaters were limited to skating at one rink, for the time being.

Thoughts on registering with one rink for practicing?

I know it would affect some coaching situations and possibly not having all the ice, BUT would limit how many rinks might have to shut down/skaters quarantine if a potential hot spot developed. Again, we're talking about a temporary situation, but if it helps get rinks open and keep them open....
I don't know how we'd be able to limit skaters to only one rink in the US. There's no system in place to check, nothing that would enforce, and really no way to know if a skater is going from rink to rink.
 

MacMadame

Staying at home
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There common wisdom is they can shed ***** and pass is along, but one of my science-y friends just shared two studies -- one from China, one from Norway -- that showed almost a 0% transmission rate from children to adults.
I don't see how that is possible given that 9% of the dead in China are children. If children can get C-19 and can die from it, there is no way they can't give it someone else.
 

Michalle

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I don't see how that is possible given that 9% of the dead in China are children. If children can get C-19 and can die from it, there is no way they can't give it someone else.
Where did you see that? I've always read that almost no children had died of *********.
 

Jozet

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2,100
I wonder how an extended period without access to rinks will impact the future re: elite level skating and hockey. Already, I'm concerned that we won't get a lot of our Learn to Skate kids back. If this goes on for longer, these programs may need to rebuild from the ground-up.

In the US, the way I see it, rinks in some areas (NJ, for example) will reopen with strict social distancing rules that may last for quite some time, and rinks in other states will just... reopen (or open with some rules at first, then really reopen soon after.) This may mean that we'll see some skating training centers shift, geographically, to where there's more ice available. We'll have to see.

I also think that we'll see some rinks close permanently or change hands, if things don't open up soon. They rely so much on income from hockey that a season without large scale hockey may be the end of them.

In terms of teaching Learn to Skate if we're trying to do social distancing - there are real issues there. In rinks where the LTS sessions are crowded, they may need to cut enrollment if they're going to continue the program. They'd also need to work on "rink management", as others mentioned, in terms of getting people in and out of the facility, on and off the ice, etc.

For the classes themselves - I can teach the older LTS kids without being near them/touching them, but it would be harder to teach the little ones that way - they don't stay far enough away.

For freestyle sessions, I wonder if most rinks won't ignore/not even think about the "maybe we need to be more than 6 feet away from each other" thing, and will instead just cut the number of people allowed on the ice - if they even do that. Because if the max allowable number of people inside the rink building is, let's pretend, 350 people according to fire code, and they only allow 28 on a freestyle, they're already legally "social distancing". So we'll have to see if they actually do anything different from what they used to do, in terms of freestyle sessions.



I don't know how we'd be able to limit skaters to only one rink in the US. There's no system in place to check, nothing that would enforce, and really no way to know if a skater is going from rink to rink.
I've written to both USA Hockey and US Figure Skating, just passing along my personal concerns and some of my thoughts on what would make me feel safer going into a rink. I did say I hoped that USA Hockey, USFSA and the US Ice Rink Association could coordinate on message with at least some best practices strong suggestions, and USA Hockey did get back to me and said that's exactly what they were trying to do right now. Which is good news, I thought.

I think rinks would want to find some way to track who is coming in and out; it's their business on the line. But yes, not easy to do. Or, at least not un-hackable.
 

AxelAnnie

Graceful men lift lovely girls in white!
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It just occurred to me that "Social Distancing" is an oxymoron.

Social: needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities.

Distance: The noun distance usually refers to physical space in between two objects, like the distance between your parking spot and the entrance to the mall. It can also mean an interval in time, like a distance of two years since you graduated. Another meaning of distance is remoteness, like the distance between you and a close friend who doesn't talk to you much these days. The Latin root is distantia, "a standing apart."
 

spinZZ

Member
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It just occurred to me that "Social Distancing" is an oxymoron.

Social: needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities.

Distance: The noun distance usually refers to physical space in between two objects, like the distance between your parking spot and the entrance to the mall. It can also mean an interval in time, like a distance of two years since you graduated. Another meaning of distance is remoteness, like the distance between you and a close friend who doesn't talk to you much these days. The Latin root is distantia, "a standing apart."
"Social" has several definitions. One broad definition (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/social) is

3 : of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society

Hence, "social distance" in the current crisis context refers to the physical separation between any two individuals in a human society. No oxymoron.
 

spinZZ

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I wonder how an extended period without access to rinks will impact the future re: elite level skating and hockey. ...
For elite figure skaters and pro hockey players who are willing, there is one early option: skaters and associated members (coaches, support staff, ...) gather in isolated complexes (such as previous Olympic villages), quarantine themselves for two weeks, get tested to make sure they are not asymptomatic carriers, and then go ahead with normal training. All new members, including members who leave and then return, must undergo the same procedure.
 

spinZZ

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Why is c_o_r_o_n_a_v_i_r_u_s and p_a_n_d_e_m_i_c being filtered out and replaced by strings of asterisks? If I type the above question normally, it is parsed as: Why is ******** and ********* being filtered out and replaced by strings of asterisks? Are these words now being construed as profanity? I noticed that in older threads, these words did appear, but now have been retroactively replaced by asterisks as well. What gives?
 
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VALuvsMKwan

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Why is c_o_r_o_n_a_v_i_r_u_s and p_a_n_d_e_m_i_c being filtered out and replaced by strings of asterisks? If I type the above question normally, it is parsed as: Why is ******** and ********* being filtered out and replaced by strings of asterisks? Are these words now being construed as profanity? I noticed that in older threads, these words did appear, but now have been retroactively replaced by asterisks as well. What gives?
Please read this thread for the explanation.

 

spinZZ

Member
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Please read this thread for the explanation.

OK. Thanks.
 

Jozet

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,100
It just occurred to me that "Social Distancing" is an oxymoron.

Social: needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities.

Distance: The noun distance usually refers to physical space in between two objects, like the distance between your parking spot and the entrance to the mall. It can also mean an interval in time, like a distance of two years since you graduated. Another meaning of distance is remoteness, like the distance between you and a close friend who doesn't talk to you much these days. The Latin root is distantia, "a standing apart."
I said it was bad branding from the get go. To get people's attention, should have called the ***** REDRUM666 and instead of social distancing, call it "Maintaining an extermination perimeter." ;)
 

Jozet

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2,100
For elite figure skaters and pro hockey players who are willing, there is one early option: skaters and associated members (coaches, support staff, ...) gather in isolated complexes (such as previous Olympic villages), quarantine themselves for two weeks, get tested to make sure they are not asymptomatic carriers, and then go ahead with normal training. All new members, including members who leave and then return, must undergo the same procedure.
This is what Major League Baseball suggested. Bring all the teams to Arizona, put everyone in dorms/hotels for the season, play all the games in one stadium with no fans. Not sure whether it went any father than a suggestion. Nothing seems crazy now. But yes, I could see other sports trying something similar. Facilities staff would need to be involved in the sports lockdown, and well-compensated.
 

Jozet

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2,100
U.S. Ice Rink Assoc. recently held a Zoom conference discussing ideas and challenges for opening rink. It's long, but touches on a long list of topics rink owners/management might need to consider before deciding whether and when to open. One of the members has a "soapbox" moment toward the end where he brings up the question of whether some rink owners might think it's even worthwhile to open with social distancing, whether it "pays" to open ice surfaces for 10 or 20 or even 50 people on a surface or in the building at one time.

https://zoom.us/rec/play/u5V8duH9qD...Jzbpk4ohnuVW9yowzgunP?startTime=1587654925000
 

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