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February 21, 2013

Weather sporadic for winter activities

By Cathy B. Koplen
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Winter has been fickle this season, but the snow has been more plentiful than last year.

“I am so happy for the snow,” said Tracey Ryersee of Cooperstown, who was recently cross country skiing at Glimmerglass State. “It is a beautiful place to ski — not too hilly.”

The Cooperstown area offers many sports and leisure activities when the winter weather sets in. Activities people look forward to snow shoe hikes, cross country skiing jaunts, ice skating, ice fishing and snow tubing.

But last winter, and part of this winter, some of the activities have been put on hold or modified.

The use of the outdoor ice skating rink at Badger Park has been on-again, off-again this year.

“We have had people using and enjoying the (Badger Park) skating rink, but we had to close it in January when we had that thaw,” said Ellen Tillapaugh, village trustee and chairwoman of the Parks Board.

The Badger Park ice skating rink opened for the Christmas holiday, but then had to close. It reopened in January and closed again when the temperature rose too high to maintain the integrity of the ice. The rink opened again in February when the temperature dropped and sustained a freezing level.

“Last year was a terrible year, we were only open a couple of days,” said Tillapaugh. “This year has been better.”

It has been the same with many local outdoor ice skating rinks.

“We had ice skating in the pavilion,” said Ryann Young, a New York State Park employee who works at Glimmerglass State Park. “But when the warm weather set in, the water began to melt and the liner rose to the surface and it ripped. We used to have ice skating on the pond, but it was smoother in the pavilion. And you have to have a certain amount of days where the temperature does not go above 32 degrees to skate on a pond.”

According to the Canadian Red Cross, there are many factors that should be considered when determining if a natural body of water is sufficiently frozen to bear the weight and activity of ice skating. These include water depth and size of the pond or lake, chemicals that may be in the water, objects such as rocks, logs or docks that may absorb heat; changing air temperature and shockwaves from vehicles traveling on the ice.

Ice should be six-to-eight inches thick to support ice skating, and at least nine inches thick to support snowmobiling.

Snow tubing is popular at Glimmerglass State Park, and when there is snow, the tubing hills are teeming with families who have come out to enjoy the day.

“We like to come out to snow tube,” said Russ Kissinger of West Winfield who was recently at Glimmerglass tubing with his family. “We were not here at all last year. I don’t think there was enough snow.”

Last year, the snow tubing park at Glimmerglass was only opened once. This year it has been opened for four weekends.

Karen Sheckells, president of Friends of Glimmerglass State Park, said the tubing park is dependent upon natural snow and can only open if there is a good base.

However, Sheckells said, Glimmerglass and its sister park, Wilber and Betty Davis State Park, offer a variety of activities whether there is snow or not.

“We will be having a free guided moonlight hike at Betty and Wilbur Davis State Park,” Sheckells said.

The tour will be offered regardless of the conditions.