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Looking for an effective way to cool down this summer? Have you thought about ice skating? An activity available all year around at the Richmond Oval. We came specifically for the Canada day themed free skate, and I thought it the perfect time to get a better look at the arena in general. Built for use during the 2010 Olympics this stadium is now used by many as their go-to recreational destination. And if you don’t live in Richmond, it is certainly worth the trip down.

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Apparently the building’s design inspiration was the heron, the official bird of Richmond. The roof is held up using fifteen glued laminated beams, and is designed to resemble the wings of the very heron. I can’t quite see it, but it’s roof is one of my favourite features about this building.

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The oval is an indoor multi-sports arena. When built for the consideration of the 2010 Winter Olympics it was originally configured with an speed skating rink. The venue has since been redesigned, it now serves as a community multi-sport park. The upper level consists of a fitness centre with a view of the North Shore mountains and the river. It houses more than 200 pieces of equipment. The main floor includes two ice hockey rinks, two running tracks, a climbing wall, a rowing tank and a flexible area which can be used for many other sports. Including basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, and table tennis. And most recently outdoor sand volley ball courts have been added, just in time for summer.

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The area also includes some beautiful views. Past the sand pits are wood laid pathways that lead close to the water’s edge. Along the length of the arena several beach chairs are set up. It is the perfect place to take a walk, then sit as the sun sets.

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Outside the arena is the “Water Sky Garden”, a sculptural environment designed by artist, Janet Echelman. It comprises of a boardwalk that weaves through a pond, and two pedestrian bridges that reach the Olympic Oval. Above this pond hangs the artist’s “sky lantern” sculpture. The sculpture is made of Tenara architectural fibre, supported by painted galvanized steel rings. An interesting idea, that unfortunately has not been very well maintained. The garden now looks more like a swamp. The water is home to flies, that are breeding and feasting on the unkept pool.

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The indoor space also includes conference rooms, a cafe serving the oval, a private gym for rental, a high performance training centre, batting nets to practice your golf or baseball swing, a yoga studio, and even a physiotherapy office. Your one stop athletic shop. The realization of this had me self conscious. Athletic types all around and I felt out of place in my high low skirt and metal embellished sandals. As some of you may know, I don’t do sports or exercise. I work on my feet all day and that keeps be just fit enough.

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After our tour we were the first to ice skating rink, where the themed skate would he held. A table manned by employees offered stickers and rub-on tattoos. We passed it for the skate rental booth. If you have your own you don’t need to pay to rent, instead you just pay for the entry fee. As a women I was able to choose between men’s hockey skates at a smaller size or women’s figure skates. The former gave you more room if you have wider feet. I needed the latter and found its longer blade helpful in keeping me balanced.

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As a gimmick, for fun, they include toys on the ice, today it was plastic dinosaurs. I don’t know the point, but it sure got our attention and stood out in our memories.

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It took me a while for me to get my groove back, a few laps for muscle memory to kick in. I enjoyed the time spent with my friends, but truth is after a few rounds there was nothing else to do. Though the setting was beautiful and made for a great photo op. I don’t know why I was surprised that it was cold. Fun, but not something I could see myself doing on a regular bases.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.

 

RICHMOND OLYMPIC OVAL
6111 River Road, Richmond BC, V7C 0A2
778-296-1400
richmondoval.ca