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'Very Canadian': Local man builds 500-foot skating trail in backyard

'Go out and have some fun in the wintertime (and) ... don’t be afraid to go out in the snow and have some fun,' says How to Hockey founder

Jeremy Rupke from How to Hockey has made a 500-foot skating trail in the backyard of his home just outside of Orillia.

The idea for the trail came to Rupke last year after thinking it would be nice if he could lace up his skates in the warmth of his own home, and then skate down to his backyard rink.

“I made an ice path from my house to the rink and then made a jump going onto the rink. Then I got thinking that it was a lot of fun and it worked, so we should make an even bigger trail,” he explained.

Rupke’s co-content creator at How to Hockey, suggested the trail be extended to the driveway so that he could pull into work, put on his skates, and then skate down to the rink.

“I thought we might as well make it go into the woods as well because we have a tent back there, and we could make it the longest private trail. Then, my son’s seventh birthday was coming up, so I said let’s make it so it’s ready for Mason’s birthday as a birthday surprise,” he said.

The trail is currently being refined to make it nice and smooth, but it does have its twists and bends after the initial gradual downhill dive, Rupke explained.

“The downhill portion gets you going down pretty quick, and then there is a small kind of plateau where you can hit the brakes if you need to, and then it keeps going down. You can go pretty fast if you want to,” Rupke said.

Rupke put his usual work aside for about a week in order to focus on making the trail.

“It really takes weather to cooperate. Basically, the colder it is the faster you can build the ice on it. The first part is to get the snowblower and some tools to clear a spot and pack down the snow. Once you’ve got the trail pretty much made, then you put water down over and over again,” he said.

“We had 300 feet of hose hooked up to homemade PVC pipe with a towel on it to evenly distribute the water across. Once we felt it getting pretty slick, we tested some techniques to get it super smooth. There is a lot of maintenance that goes into it.”

Rupke’s favourite part of the trail is it exemplifies the Canadian spirit.

“You can pull in the driveway, put on some skates, skate around the backyard, and into the hockey rink. It just feels very Canadian,” he said.

While Rupke’s trail isn’t open to the public, he encourages everybody to check it out on social media. Rupke also encourages others to make their own winter fun.

“Go out and have some fun in the wintertime. It’s unfortunate that our activities have been restricted in Ontario because of COVID protocols, but don’t be afraid to go out in the snow and have some fun,” he said.

“Build a skating trail, an igloo, a backyard rink, and spend some quality time with the family," he urged.