A new life for a few ice rinks


The skating rink project in Louviers by Agence Chabanne. (Chabannes - 2019)

Built mainly in the 70s after the 1968 Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble, French ice rinks are now aging. Renovation costs are high. However, three new ice rinks bloom this year in France. The inaugurations of the ice rinks of Angers, Dunkerque and Louviers are scheduled for September. Two of them will house a synchronized skating club: Dunkerque Skating and Ice Skating Club Louviers.

The skating rink of Dunkerque was inaugurated in 1970 and the Louviers arena in 1989. The two structures became aging and the technical problems were more and more recurrent notably in Louviers.

The renovations began in the winter of 2017. Prices are 16 million euros for Dunkerque and 14 million for Louviers.

Both complexes were designed by Chabanne architecture and engineering firm. Their modern architecture differs from the hangar style of previous ice rinks.

The preview of the future ice skating rink in Dunkerque by the Chabanne agency. (Chabanne - 2019)

They each consist of two tracks: one Olympic size for training and competitions, the other smaller for beginners, public sessions or schools.

The old ice rinks, too old to be rehabilitated, will be destroyed.

The Olympic rink at the Dunkerque ice stadium. (Ville de Dunkerque - 2019)

"We practice on a small rink"
These new high-end structures make many skaters dream. Especially those whose rinks are not adapted for competitions.

In Saint-Etienne, for example, the municipal ice rink measures 30x30 meters, which is far from the standard size of 30x60 meters. However, the skating club of Saint-Etienne has two synchronized skating teams, which despite rudimentary equipment, have always been on the podium of the "Coupe de France" for the past three years.

Isabel of the Mixed Age team Étincelles in Saint-Etienne explains how they work on such a small track: "We have been adapting for years, we divide our program into small parts and we cut the music. Before each competition, we buy one hour of training at the club that hosts the event to train on their track with the correct dimensions. We also do a summer camp at Alpe d'Huez and winter camp at Les Deux Alpes. Sometimes, the club of Pont De Vaux also sells us a few hours on the ice. We are surely the only two teams in France to practice on such a small rink."

Fortunately for the skaters of Saint-Etienne, the president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region announced an envelope of 10 million euros for the construction of a new arena. It will also be equipped with two rinks. However, the skaters have to be patient because its opening is scheduled for 2023.

Remember that not all skaters are so lucky. Since the fall of 2017, the skaters of the French club Deuil La Barre have no more ice rink. The arena had to be closed for safety reasons because. The club had no less than 450 licensees who, for the most part, had to stop their practice on the ice. The other skaters were forced to train in neighboring clubs. The situation has been going on for two seasons now and currently, funding has not been found to restore the ice rink.

The costs of building or restoring an ice rink are high, and it is therefore often difficult for small French municipalities to bear the costs.

However, the French teams will have the opportunity to come and discover the modern rink of Louviers on April 4th and 5th, 2020 during the "Coupe de France" for synchronized skating.