Urbana teen builds outdoor rink in backyard

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The winter’s cold temperatures have made for perfect ice skating conditions outdoors, but some places have shut down because of the pandemic – leaving skaters without a place to practice.

For the last few weeks, you could find 15-year-old Paula Sardela ice skating from the comfort of her home.

“When I think I was about 7-years-old, my mom put me in ice skating lessons and at first I didn’t really like it, and then I kind of stuck around around and ended up liking it,” Sardela said.

She liked it so much, she has been ice skating for more than 7 years.

This year, her parents helped her build her own rink. Using tarp, wood, and the main ingredient – gallons of water.

“The U of I rink is currently closed and the closest rink to me is about an hour away. So, it really doesn’t work out that well because normally, I practice 5 times a week.”

Which is how she came up with the idea. So instead of heading to Bloomington everyday, she goes to her backyard.

Sardela skates with a program for high school students through the U of I and competes in figure skating tournaments. She says a lot goes into skating.

“I think a lot of time and resilence, because it’s really cold and often times, you have to wake up really early in the mornings to go to practice.”

Sardela practices every single day- if the weather allows. The warmer temps means the ice won’t stay frozen for long, but she says the whole ice skating experience has been great.

After she graduates, she hopes to study business in college and become an ice skating coach.

A new outdoor ice skating rink could be coming to Champaign soon. The park district has put together a team to look into making it.

This week, they’ll visit the man-made ice rink in Pontiac and talk with local leaders about cost, style, and maintenance.

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