A family has run Tasmania’s only ice rink for 40 years

For 40 years, the Kaitinis family has witnessed the delicate dancing of figure skaters, the intense brawling of ice hockey players and numerous spills on the ice.

But after decades as owners and operators of Glenorchy Ice Rink in the northern suburbs of Hobart, the family decided to hang up their skates and look for a buyer.

Tony and Beverly Kaitinis opened the establishment in 1980.

Their daughter and current rink manager, Janina Kaitinis, said it was a big attraction.

“I think everyone was excited,” Ms. Kaitinis said.

A ladder to an apartment

After 40 years, the Kaitinis family of Tasmania sells their Glenorchy ice rink.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

The rink has seen many changes over the years, perhaps the biggest renovation being the addition of an internal staircase to the apartment above.

An elderly couple stand outside and smile at the camera
Glenorchy Ice Skating Rink owners Beverley and Tony Kaitinis are hanging up their skates after 40 years.(Provided)

Ms Kaitnis said that at first her younger sister complained about having to climb a ladder to get in through a window.

“She said it was very embarrassing to climb a ladder on the main street. It was to get into the upstairs unit,” Ms Kaitnis said.

“Obviously a little cosmetic makeover could help [the rink]embellish a little, because he is old, he is 40 years old.

1970s image of a construction site
The Glenorchy ice rink under construction in 1979.(Provided: Janina Kaitinis)

Mrs. Kaitinis’ parents are still involved in the business.

His mother manages the books and his father takes care of sharpening the skates.

“Dad is from Lithuania. He came as a refugee. He started here with nothing,” Ms Kaitinis said.

“To this day, he still comes and works. I think he lives for the job. He has a great work ethic. Mom does too.”

“It may be the end of an era”

Four ice hockey players and a referee play in front of a goal on an ice rink.
There are fears that sports such as ice hockey will no longer be played in Tasmania once the rink is sold.(Provided: Rob Maver)

Glenorchy Ice Rink is the only ice skating facility in the state and home to a small but vibrant sports community.

On Saturday, it will host the Van Diemen’s League Grand Finals, in what could be the state’s last ice hockey game.

Ice Hockey Tasmania chairman Sam van den Berg said it could be the “end of an era”.

He fears that a new owner will demolish the building to redevelop it on the site.

Amy Pailthorpe has been figure skating at Glenorchy Ice Rink for 12 years.

Last year, she became the Australian Adult Figure Skating Gold Champion.

A sign on the side of an ice rink
There is no guarantee that the rink will remain open once sold.(Supplied: NAI Harcourts)
A skater in a red dress stands on the ice with a medal.
Champion ice skater Amy Pailthorpe has been skating at Glenorchy for 12 years.(Provided: Katrina Pailthorpe)

“We’re probably the underdog sometimes when it comes to things like that. Because our ice surface is smaller, we only have one rink,” she said.

“I love the feeling, spinning and jumping, just sliding.

“When you put on a really good performance in a competition or a show, you feel very accomplished.”

Amy skates five times a week, up to 8 hours a day.

But with the future of the local rink uncertain, she is worried.

“I hope whoever buys it next will keep the sport alive and help make it even stronger in Tassie.”

Hope the legacy continues

A woman holds a pair of ice skates in front of an ice rink.
Glenorchy rink manager Janina Kaitinis hopes the new owner will continue to operate the rink.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Janina Kaitinis has been involved in the operation of her family’s ice rink for 20 years.

“It’s a beautiful sport, if done correctly,” she said.

“Some of them, you sit here and laugh. You have a great comedy afternoon sometimes.”

Ms Kaitinis said she was sad to let go of a piece of her family history.

“I wish and hope that whoever buys it will keep it as a skating rink.

“I hope nothing happens to him. I hope he stays as he is.”

An empty indoor ice rink.
The opening of the rink generated a lot of excitement in the community 40 years ago.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

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