A private wonderland
Colourful ice rink inspires first-time skater

RAE LAKES (Dec 14/98) - A kaleidoscope of colours swirl around the children who skate on the hand crafted, multi-coloured skating rink in Rae Lakes.

The rink is a private wonderland created for a lucky little girl in Rae Lakes who is just learning how to skate.

Vicki Rankin is just 20 months old and is already a legend on the ice, with her claim "Vicki's Rink" carved into the centre of the dark orange ice rink in her back yard.

Doug Rankin, her dad, had a vision and it took him six teaspoons of paint tint, a lot of water and every spare moment he and his wife had to create the memorable rink.

Water had to be pumped from the lake to flood the rink because the Rankins had little water to spare from their water deliveries. After the first layers froze, then coloured water was layered on with care and sealed, but that was only the beginning.

The entire back wall of the rink is made of coloured ice bricks secured with frozen slush mortar. The two side walls are wooden pallets used to tie down truck loads, now brightly painted with stick characters, stars and Christmas trees, and even the famed Sesame Street sweetheart, Elmo.

What possessed Rankin to create such a time consuming masterpiece? Nothing much. He does something like this every year. It's for the fun of it and the enjoyment it gives to his family and the friends who use it.

Actually, Rankin's creations are almost expected to awe and amaze every year.

"It's gotten more elaborate as the years go along," said Rankin.

The ice brick wall is something he added to the rink this year, as well as the painted characters on the side boards. Colour is the theme of the rink this year and even the ice is multi-coloured. A yellow sun shines through the legs of the black Inukshuk and the lettering that adorn the centre of the orange ice.

"I wanted a lot of colour," said Rankin. "I used a mortar to carve out the Inukshuk and added the black. It took about three hours over two evenings."

Rankin said the time it took to create the finished product was worth it, but it wasn't easy with both he and his wife, Lou, working and looking after Vicki.

"I manage the store six days a week...from 10-6 and then some," said Rankin. "As with any managerial job, there are extra things to do. My wife works evenings too. We want to be stay-at-home parents, so we try to work it out that way."

As for Vicki, she helped work on the rink too, well, at least she tried. But she will have plenty of chances to get into it when she gets older, said Rankin. He plans on keeping the tradition up as long as it's appreciated.

Although Vicki still skates around in her walker, she is quite happy with her rink and anxious to get out of her walker for a few games of hockey.

"She wants to get out on her own and she goes sometimes, but I'm afraid she'll fall," said Rankin. "She talks about hockey and we give her a stick and a ball. She moves around pretty good (without the walker) with the stick for balance."

Vicki uses the rink quite a bit and Rankin hopes her enthusiasm keeps her on the ice.

"We take her out when she asks," said Rankin. "When she first got on skates she got giddy about it...I hope she continues to like it. All we can do as parents is put things in front of them and hope it's things they like."