Sask. small-town hockey rink with descending 'catwalk' onto ice grabs internet's attention
A hockey rink in a small Saskatchewan town has earned internet stardom for the way skaters hit the ice.
At the community skating rink in Lang, Sask., about 60 kilometres south of Regina, players have to descend a staircase that rises and falls using a pulley system.
Once they're onto the ice, the staircase — like a drawbridge — is lifted back to the roof.
Rink board member and village councillor Mike Williams said the community calls it the "catwalk."
"As you step onto the stairs it drops down onto the ice and you walk down onto the ice and when your whole team is out there you push it back up with your hockey stick," Williams told Peter Mills, guest host of CBC's The Morning Edition.
"We're pretty proud of our old barn."
A viral video posted to social media platforms shows a player from the neighbouring Hamlet of Gray, Sask., attempting to drop the catwalk to get onto the ice when it abruptly drops and forces him to shuffle down a few steps.
On one Twitter post, the video is nearing one million views.
Lang, Saskatchewan has gone viral for their unique player entrance. What was the most unique thing about your small town rink? pic.twitter.com/GQf9TxzqB9
— The Green Zone (@GreenZoneSK) January 31, 2023
Williams said the drawbridge appears to have gotten stuck in the video, but isn't dangerous and typically slides up and down easily.
He's also fairly certain the Lang Rink, built in 1928, is the oldest rink in Saskatchewan.
Ray Beck, a former rink board member, said he believes the unique staircase was added in the 1940s for easier access to the ice from the dressing rooms.
Like Williams, Beck said the ability to keep ice in the rink since the late 1920s has been a point of pride for the community.
"My dad came in here in Jan. 1, 1929, as a 15-year-old, scraped up a dime because that's what it cost to get in the building for the day … so it's been handed down in our family," Beck said.
The "zamboni" matches the rink's esthetic — it's a green barrel with wheels and a mop trailing behind.
Jesse Ridgway, who lives on a farm just north of Lang, said she appreciates the rink as a community hub.
Her seven-year-old son, Lucas Ridgway, was one of her three kids at the rink on Wednesday watching local hockey.
"I can't imagine what it's like to be a goalie going down those stairs, because they're pretty sketchy," he said, adding he doesn't have issues descending the drawbridge.
WATCH | Small town Sask. hockey rink the centre of attention for drawbridge entrance onto ice:
Despite the nostalgia that hovers around the antique hockey rink, Williams said it took about one thousand volunteer hours this past year to maintain.
He's started a GoFundMe with a $25,000 goal — more than $10,000 of which has already been raised — with the money to be used for basic maintenance, kitchen and bathroom repairs, and "some grease for our ladder pulley."
Williams said the recently installed puckboards cost $18,000.
Regardles of future updates and renovations, Williams said one thing won't be changing.
"The catwalk will be here until the day this barn goes down," he said. "Which hopefully isn't for another 100-plus years."