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click to enlarge CREIGHTON SMITH

It may be hotter'n a pistol outside, but inside the World Arena it feels more like January. A pit at the far end of the arena, usually reserved for student fans, is filled with the melting remains of the hockey rink.

Eric Harnick, the man responsible for melting down the World Arena for the summer, as well as maintaining the other two ice sheets in the adjacent Ice Arena, spends much of his day driving around the ice in circles, on an industrial snow cone maker known as the Zamboni machine.

"It can be boring, but you're constantly having to think about what you're doing out there," Harnick says. "You're maintaining thickness or trying to fill in holes or ruts. You're trying to add water or cut more ice."

In other words, this is no job for an amateur. And, different skaters like different things.

"Everybody's opinion of a perfect sheet of ice is different," Harnick says. "Figure skaters prefer softer ice that is a little bit warmer, so that it gives when they jump. Hockey players and dance teams, and the short-track speed skating Olympic team that train here, they prefer a little harder ice so that they stay on top of the surface so that they are faster and can turn easier.

"But the figure skaters are the ones that you try to make the happiest, because they are the hardest to make happy."

-- by Eddie Kovsky

Photo by Creighton Smith

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