As anyone who has ever tried to make a rink in their backyard knows, building a hockey-worthy ice surface outdoors isn't an easy task. Constructing a playing surface for the best hockey players in the world is a little more stressful and requires even more precision.
On Monday, NHL Facilities Operation Manager Dan Craig discussed some of the difficulties of building the rink for this year's Winter Classic at Heinz Field. The stadium along Pittsburgh's North Shore has notorious wind patterns because it is open on one end, and the swirling has made things a little more difficult for Craig and his crew as they spray water to form the ice.
"It's a challenge," Craig said of the wind. "When you're spraying here and it ends up on that back wall...we'd like it to land and freeze where we point it, not 40 feet away. That's why it's a challenge. We're trying to make this thing, the ice surface, as dense as we possibly can. That's why we use fine sprays, but when the wind is pushing it everywhere we have to expand the flow of the water a little bit."
At the time of the press conference, Craig said they had an inch and a half of ice down. According to Dan Rosen from NHL.com, the surface was painted white and sealed with another layer of ice last night and the lines and logos will be added Tuesday.
Craig and his crew also had to create a platform of sorts in order to build the rink on a level surface -- something Heinz Field is not.
"Because of the turf here, it really was the crown of the field and that's why we have decking here to alleviate that concern," Craig said. "Once the stage went down we put a plywood layer on top of it so we could put ice pans on top of it. We had three crews working side by side and basically leap frogging each other down the field."
Check out the time lapse of the rink construction at Heinz Field below:
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