WEEK­END SHOWS AND WOES:

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY MAR­GARET CALDBICK AND STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON News Staff

An­other busy week­end saw Sk8fest pro­vide thrills, spills and breaks at the Glen­garry Sports Palace in Alexan­dria, and ex­hibitors putting their best feet, and hooves, for­ward at the Wil­liamstown Fair. At left, the an­nual skate­board fes­ti­val ran into safety prob­lems when the arena floor be­came slick af­ter ice-mak­ing equip­ment was ac­ti­vated. A long-time sup­porter of the event is Jonny Cameron, 17, from Corn­wall, seen here get­ting some big air off one of the event's new ramps. Mean­while, the fair man­aged to deal with mois­ture from an­other source as heavy rains tem­po­rar­ily flooded the grounds. But that did not pre­vent the show from go­ing on. (Above) Is­abella Poirier, 15, from Wil­liamstown, show­ing Don­ald­son from Cherry Crest Hol­steins in Mart­in­town took top prize in Sum­mer Year­ling at the Glen­garry Hol­stein

A tech­ni­cal fi­asco that covered the con­crete floor of the Billy Geb­bie Arena with a slip­pery build-up of wa­ter cre­ated haz­ardous con­di­tions for the over 100 skate­board­ers who at­tended the 14th edi­tion of Sk8Fest in Alexan­dria on Satur­day.

North Glen­garry res­i­dents Phoenix Mil­ley and Grayson An­dre-McNeil, both 11, sprained their wrists and needed on-site ban­dag­ing.

“I can still do some tricks, but when I tried one trick I can usu­ally land, I slipped out and hurt my hand,” said Grayson, flash­ing his ban­daged wrist.

“I hurt my head,” said Phoenix, point­ing to a good-sized lump on his fore­head just below the brim of his hel­met. Later Grayson would also fall hard enough to hurt his wrist and need ban­dag­ing.

“I don’t know why the floor is the way it is— could it have been avoided?” won­dered Grayson’s mother, Pam An­dré, at 5 p.m. af­ter most skate­board­ers had moved off the rink sur­face.

Ms. An­dré has at­tended ev­ery Sk8fest since its in­cep­tion. Her older son Tyler, now 22, was one of the found­ing mem­bers of the Alexan­dria Skate Team.

The event started de­grad­ing soon af­ter the arena staff turned on the rink’s com­pres­sor and con­denser to start lay­ing down ice for an “Ice Mak­ing and Paint­ing” course sched­uled at the arena for Tues­day, Aug. 15. The rink floor be­gan chill­ing two hours af­ter the Sk8Fest gates opened at 11 a.m., and by 2 p.m., the sur­face had be­come a dan­ger­ous slip haz­ard.

“Our wheels are ure­thane so wa­ter and a slip­pery floor just doesn’t work,” said vol­un­teer or­ga­nizer Justin Sauve, stop­ping for a mo­ment from work­ing with other vol­un­teers to im­pro­vise safe land­ing pads made from ply­wood.

“I’ve al­ready had ten peo­ple get hurt, not se­ri­ously enough to go to the hospi­tal, but badly enough that they can’t skate,” said Mr. Sauvé. “They’re mes­sag­ing me and say­ing they are not com­ing back be­cause they’re hurt.”

Alexan­dria mu­sic teacher, mu­sic ther­a­pist, and mu­sic store owner Alain Lau­zon, who has been in­volved as a vol­un­teer or­ga­niz­ing Sk8Fest for a decade, says he is dis­ap­pointed and feels help­less af­ter this week­end’s de­ba­cle.

“I met with the man­ager ( Richard Wylie, Glen­garry Sports Palace’s lead hand) three weeks ago when I learned that we would have to keep the arena’s big back doors closed through­out our event be­cause they would be turn­ing on the rink’s com­pres­sors to start chill­ing the floor to pre­pare for mak­ing ice,” said Mr. Lau­zon on Mon­day.

“I asked what this would do and Richard told me it would cool the arena a few de­grees which sounded good at the time,” said Mr. Lau­zon. “In hind­sight I re­al­ize that it’s pure physics that with the doors closed and no ven­ti­la­tion, of course a floor that’s be­ing re­frig­er­ated is go­ing to cre­ate con­den­sa­tion and be­come wet.”

At a lit­tle af­ter 1:45 p.m. on Satur­day, a fierce rain­storm dropped an inch of rain on Alexan­dria in 15 min­utes when the rink floor was al­ready wet with con­den­sa­tion. At this point, the only thing that could have helped would have been to open the large back doors to air out the area.

Mr. Wylie told Sk8Fest or­ga­niz­ers that he had switched off the rink’s com­pres­sor but the floor con­tin­ued to stay cold, send­ing up a cloud of mist at 4 p.m. Arena em­ploy­ees also tried to help out, in­stalling a sin­gle fan near the closed back doors and hand­ing out squeegees and a broom.

Mr. Lau­zon says that this is the first time in the his­tory of Sk8Fest that there have been any prob­lems with arena con­di­tions and says that he’s very re­lieved that no one was se­ri­ously in­jured this year.

For Mr. Sauvé, the un­fore­seen prob­lems at this year’s Sk8Fest are dis­heart­en­ing.

“It’s so dis­ap­point­ing that af­ter a whole year of plan­ning and prep­ping, the event is spoiled by wa­ter on the floor,” he said. “I’m heart­bro­ken, and I shouldn’t, but I feel per­son­ally ter­ri­ble for what’s hap­pened. So many peo­ple came and looked around and just left. In the be­gin­ning be­fore the floor got wet it was packed, it was al­most tight. Be­fore the sweat hap­pened there were 100 peo­ple on the floor and the most new ramps ever.”

Mr. Sauvé is one of the orig­i­nal Alexan­dria Skate Team teenagers who, in 2004, lob­bied with spokesper­son and con­cerned par­ent Natalie StDe­nis to raise funds, co­or­di­nate, and over­see the con­struc­tion of the first phase of the skate park in Alexan­dria. At that time, North Glen­garry coun­cil came on board with the project and helped se­cure $100,000 to com­plete the first phase of the project. Coun­cil also wel­comed the Sk8Fest fundraiser to the Glen­garry Sports Arena, an ar­range­ment that has been re­peated 14 times.

“Next year we plan to have our event ear­lier and nowhere near hockey time,” says Mr. Sauvé.

North Glen­garry’s Recre­ation Di­rec­tor Anne Le­duc (who was on va­ca­tion when SK8Fest took place) says that Mr. Lau­zon didn’t know about the ice mak­ing and paint­ing course when he booked the Sk8Fest date last year. The four-day course was booked in De­cem­ber. It was sup­posed to start on Mon­day but the town­ship post­poned it by one day in or­der to ac­com­mo­date Sk8Fest. She adds that the course could not be post­poned be­cause the in­struc­tors are booked for sev­eral cour­ses and this week was the only time slot that worked for the town­ship. She adds that the Glen­garry Sports Palace is al­ready deal­ing with a “crit­i­cal mass” of ice use re­quests. Ear­lier this year, South Glen­garry Town­ship had con­sid­ered hav­ing Char- Lan Recre­ation Cen­tre users, like the Char-Lan Rebels, ap­proach the Glen­garry Sports Palace for any early ice needs. Ewen Mac­Don­ald, South Glen­garry’s Man­ager of In­fra­struc­ture, says that wound up be­ing a non-is­sue as none of its groups needed early ice time. He did say that three of South Glen­garry’s em­ploy­ees are tak­ing the ice paint­ing course and that there could be a prece­dent for the two town­ships to in­stall their ice early on al­ter­nat­ing years.

Ms. Le­duc says that when town­ship staff met with Mr. Lau­zon, they en­cour­aged him to pick an al­ter­nate date for the event as Aug. 12 was pretty close to the date of the ice mak­ing and paint­ing course.

That’s some­thing Mr. Lau­zon says he couldn’t af­ford to do. Typ­i­cally, Sk8Fest takes place the same week­end as the Wil­liamstown Fair. In the be­gin­ning, or­ga­niz­ers chose to hold the event later in the sum­mer be­cause they didn’t want to com­pete with mu­sic fes­ti­vals like Vans Warped Tour and Heavy Mon­tréal.

But with things be­ing dif­fer­ent now (Heavy Mon­tréal is tak­ing a hiatus this year) Mr. Lau­zon says next year’s Sk8Fest may take place in July. This week, the Sk8Fest web­page also an­nounced that the 2018 edi­tion will be ear­lier in the sum­mer.

Ms. Le­duc agrees that an ear­lier Sk8Fest would be ben­e­fi­cial to ev­ery­one and en­cour­aged or­ga­niz­ers to tar­get the largely teenaged au­di­ence while they’re still in school.

She also points out that Sk8fest is sub­si­dized by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, which pro­vides the arena free of charge, pays for over­time staff, and even pro­vides a grant to pay the bands. She es­ti­mates that this year’s Sk8Fest cost North Glen­garry about $4,000.

Mr. Lau­zon agrees that the town­ship has al­ways been gen­er­ous but main­tains that he’s still frus­trated with the sit­u­a­tion.

“The arena spon­sors me and I don’t pay and I’m grate­ful for that,” he says. “The town­ship gave us $2,500 and that en­abled us to pay each mu­si­cian at least $50 a head. But this was still an event and you can’t com­pli­cate it.

“Around 5:30 p.m., the wa­ter was right at the stage. We had thou­sands of dol­lars in equip­ment that was sit­ting in wa­ter.”

Also, in April, Mr. Lau­zon was ad­vised that the Glen­garry Sports Palace had booked a wed­ding on the same date as Sk8Fest. He agreed to put the lower vol­ume bands on be­fore 6 p.m. when the wed­ding party would be get­ting un­der­way. He also of­fered the wed­ding party an op­por­tu­nity to have their photo taken on the dra­matic Sk8Fest stage.

For his part, Mr. Sauvé is tak­ing a live-and-learn ap­proach.

“I’m a per­fec­tion­ist and per­fec­tion also means safety,” he says. “I’m not com­plain­ing about the arena, it was ba­si­cally a bad sit­u­a­tion that no­body an­tic­i­pated. We only learn from our mis­takes and hope­fully next year ev­ery­thing will run smoothly, but I’ll have this in my mind for the rest of my life.”

The On­tario Recre­ation Fa­cil­i­ties As­so­ci­a­tion (ORFA) course, which started yes­ter­day, is for arena fa­cil­ity op­er­a­tors, specif­i­cally ice tech­ni­cians, and ac­cord­ing to ORFA’s web­site, cov­ers top­ics in­clud­ing the risks and haz­ards as­so­ci­ated with ice-mak­ing and the hid­den dan­gers as­so­ci­ated with this task.

MAR­GARET CALDBICK PHO­TOS

MAR­GARET CALDBICK PHOTO

SLIP­PERY SK8FEST: Grayson An­dré-McNeil of Alexan­dria sits on a skate­board ramp an hour be­fore the close of Satur­day’s Sk8Fest in Alexan­dria. The young ath­lete and Glens goal­tender was one of the many skate­board­ers at the fundraiser who had a bad fall...

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