From the Centre: Creston Zamboni driver taking part in East Kootenay challenge

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Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.

Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.

Over the next while, we will be tallying our attendance stats from 2014 as one tool to map out progress compared to previous years. Leisure services has always been fairly dynamic, as it needs to respond to current wide-ranging community needs, as well as maintain what is working for those that want to simply come and swim, work out or play hockey. One small area we track is whether we open on statutory holidays and which ones. We have tweaked the list over the past almost five years (and before that prior to renos) and currently open for seven of them with, you guessed it, Family Day being the most popular to date followed closely by Boxing Day and Good Friday. Overall, the head count for stats rises by 25 per cent or more each year with the membership use lately almost doubling the general admission entries.

Like they say, “Statistics mean never having to say you are certain,” but one area we are certain of is that we are representing the Creston Valley at the East Kootenay Credit Union Zamboni ice trials at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook on Jan. 24. This challenge has Zamboni drivers from the Kootenays competing against each other between periods at a Kootenay Ice game in a session of skill and daring not unlike the Hunger Games. OK, it’s nothing like the Hunger Games, but it is based on maneuvering a $100,000, almost five-ton machine around a series of pylons in a twisting timed course around the ice surface.

Our nemesis for this second-period go-around will be Sparwood, with the winner of the evening receiving $500 towards the charity of their choice, which in our case is the Pet Adoption and Welfare Society. Even if you freeze at the controls and suck up a half-dozen pylons to get jammed in the vertical auger, your charity still receives $250 as a runner-up consolation. The Kootenay Ice may be less than impressed at that scenario but if we are successful the top two compete on March 13 for another $500 toward our charity, not to mention receiving a trophy, Creston’s name on a permanent plaque at WFP and the ultimate bragging rights for the achievement.

Through a complex staff evaluation process not unlike rock-paper-scissors, our representative this year is Joseph, who has over 12 years experience at going around in circles, which, unlike some jobs, is a good thing. Other competitors in the bout are Kimberley, Canal Flats, Elkford, Fernie and Invemere, with round one already completed Nov. 7. We thought this was a pretty cool initiative as everyone wins (even if you don’t) — good exposure for Creston and neighbouring towns, awareness opportunities for charities and their communities, and a friendly rivalry between that select group that are Zamboni drivers.

Hats off to East Kootenay Credit Union for organizing the event and providing donations to the groups, as well as the accompanying trophy and plaque. Another tip of the hat to the Kootenay Ice hockey team for participating, as well as the staff at Western Financial Place for letting strangers on their ice resurfacer — you are getting pretty close to home when you start monkeying with another man’s or woman’s Zamboni. We will keep you updated on what happens!

Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.