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The ice has an ally
December 05, 2012


Foundation brings on new ice rink manager

With a degree in parks and recreation and experience already under his belt running an ice rink, Sven Taow is the perfect guy to manage the Kotler Arena for the Teton Valley Foundation. Look for Sven at the helm of the rink’s new Zamboni. Photo by Jeannette Boner





As a guy who has lots of experience building ice, Sven Taow knows that the roof on the Kotler Arena in Victor is as valuable as the new Zamboni that recently rolled into town.

Brought on by the Teton Valley Foundation this year as the rink manager, Taow comes to town with a wealth of experience. While working toward his master’s degree in park and recreation, Taow worked for a rink in Midway, a town just south of Park City, Utah.

An Idaho Falls native who has played hockey since he was six, Taow worked for the concessioner that ran the rink owned by the Town of Midway, a situation similar to the agreement between the City of Victor and the Teton Valley Foundation.

“I was excited to see how well developed the programming is here with broomball and a women’s hockey league,” Taow said. “To me, the most intriguing part of running the rink is the people.”

Taow is looking forward to working with patrons of the Kotler Arena because he already has a pretty good comfort level with making and maintaining good ice. Though the ice in Midway was refrigerated, he was always scrambling to keep that rink in good condition. The experience has given Taow a good deal of
perspective.

“I don’t think Mother Nature could serve up anything weirder than what I encountered last year in Utah,” Taow said. “It was 45 degrees, the refrigeration was broken, and my head was spinning. We did what we could.”

Gearing up for the Junior A hockey tournament that was scheduled during the first week in March, Taow got up at 2 a.m. several days in advance of the event. He made ice for hours and then covered it with 50 concrete blankets. Sometimes it snowed and the heavy blankets were made even more awkward to handle.

“We did so much to get the ice ready, but there was this one 20 by ten foot spot that was bumpy,” Taow said. “They had skated on the ice for only an hour and then the coaches called off the entire tournament.”

The cancellation was a tough break, especially to the man who was watching the bottom line at the Midway rink. Working for a nonprofit organization at a rink with a roof over its head and a new Zamboni in the barn, Taow is confident Teton Valley will have the best ice it’s ever known.

“Flooding can work, but it can also result in the formation of hollow layers that are problematic,” Taow said. “We’ll start with a half inch formed a sixteenth of an inch at a time, and then we’ll be able to start making ice with the Zamboni. The ice will be flatter and smoother.”

Using hot water in its tanks, the Zamboni will shave and collect a thin layer of ice on each pass while applying the warmer water that makes for the best ice.

“The rink in Midway had the refrigeration break down four times last year, and the rink wasn’t sheltered,” Taow said. “Even when the refrigeration was working, solar radiation would beat down on one corner of the rink. It was a challenge.”

The owner and operator of Dusty Stables Photography in Jackson during the summer since 2008, Taow knows the business end of both a horse and a camera lens as well as a Zamboni. His move to Teton Valley has provided him an opportunity to stay put in a place he already enjoys, and the Foundation has an opportunity this year to click it up a notch at the popular Kotler Arena that is constantly evolving.

Together, Taow and Foundation Director Gil Hundley are working together on winter programming as improvements are made to the ice rink that is scheduled to open the first week of 2013.

Back in Midway, Taow sometimes operated a 1996 Zamboni just like the one recently acquired by the Foundation, but he also depended on a 1967 model called “Scrappy,” a trusty, rusty outfit with an old Volkswagen engine. Between his experience and enthusiasm, Taow will be a familiar face at the Kotler Arena and a trusted ally for the ice.

 

 

 
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