A floatation therapy clinic in Airdrie is bringing back a contest it launched in 2021 to discover the city’s best backyard skating rink.
After a successful inaugural contest in early 2021, Modern Elevation Wellness Studio in Gateway is once again facilitating the “Airdrie’s Best Outdoor Rink” competition this February – a contest that tasks participants with showing off their home-made skating rinks, and asks voters to decide which one they like the most.
Jackie Figiel, Modern Elevation manager, said last year’s competition was a big hit, with 14 participants and more than 5,000 votes tallied.
“We weren’t intending on doing a second one, but because of the community morale during COVID, we decided to do it again,” she said. “We created a better website, a better link, better prizes, and included more local businesses in our community to make this a bigger and better experience.”
Figiel said the 2021 version of the event was an eye-opener for her, as it revealed just how prevalent outdoor and backyard skating rinks are in Airdrie.
But while last year’s contest saw plenty of participation, Figiel acknowledged there has been a bit of a drought in 2022, with just two households signed up for this year’s competition as of Jan. 25.
She noted there are few possible reasons for the lack of participants – the wide fluctuations in temperatures this winter making it hard to maintain outdoor rinks, and the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases across Alberta are the likely culprits, she said.
“I think there are probably over 100 ice rinks in Airdrie and last year we had 14 contestants apply,” she said. “I know they’re out there – I’m just asking them to submit their rink.”
Considering the contest is free to enter and winners receive prizes donated from local Airdrie businesses, Figiel said she encourages anyone in Airdrie with a backyard rink to participate in this year’s contest.
Registration is available on the homepage of modernelevation.ca. To give prospective participants more time to sign up, Figiel noted the deadline to register has been extended until early February, with public voting taking place shortly afterwards.
Modern Elevation opened its doors in January 2020. The wellness centre specializes in floatation therapy to target specific conditions and boost overall physical and mental health, according to its Facebook page.
The timing of the business’ launch could not have been much worse, Figiel said, as the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 brought operations to an early halt, less than two months after opening.
“Our first year, I don’t even think we were open for six months,” she said. “We rolled with the times and did the best we could.”
While Modern Elevation fared a bit better in 2021, Figiel admitted the pandemic continued to impact the business’ bottom line.
“It’s getting there,” she said. “Obviously, we could use a few more feet through the door. It’s been a tough go.
“I think people are being a little careful right now, and every few months, there are either spikes in numbers or summers are very busy,” she added. “It’s been a challenging two years.”
Getting Modern Elevation’s name out to the community and connecting and engaging with Airdrie residents, according to Figiel, is what motivated the business owners to launch the backyard skating rink competition last winter.
She said the contest fits with business owner Ryan Cameron, as both of his kids played hockey and ringette, and the promotion of physical activity ties in with the therapeutic services offered at Modern Elevation.
“It really does help – especially for muscle recovery after being on the ice,” Figiel said.
But more so than that, she added, the contest helped galvanize the community during a time of hardship for many.
“It gave them something to focus on, and was very family-related, so it brought families together,” she said, adding the competition also created some friendly competition between neighbours and peers.
“Just seeing that, especially when times have been really tough for the last few years, with people isolating and staying in cohorts – it was just beautiful to see,” she said. “People loved the competition and there were all smiles. That’s why we want to do it again – to bring it back.”