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Dan Bowery, ice rink marshal
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re an ice rink marshal

Written by
Danielle Goldstein

…according to Dan Bowery, 28.

Children are less wimpy than adults

‘My job at the Natural History Museum ice rink is to skate around, help people learn to skate and pick people up when they fall over. Kids generally learn a lot more easily and don’t mind falling over – they’ll get straight back up and laugh about it. Whereas adults will cling to you, which generally means they end up falling over a lot more.’

Wind is an ice rink’s worst enemy

‘Our rink contains something like 186,000 litres of water, all being cooled by pipes that run underneath. It’s basically a big freezer without a door. This year has been great so far, as it’s been quite cold, but when it gets mild and windy the ice struggles. The wind constantly moves the water on top, so it never gets a chance to freeze properly.’

It’s always best to skate off-peak

‘If you go on certain days during the week between 10am and 1pm, you pay the same amount as for a one‑hour session, but you can skate for up to three hours. I can use the rink for free whenever I’m not working, and I’ll be going in during those quiet times.’

Fingers getting chopped off is a myth

‘Everyone always asks, but that’s never happened. Out of all the people I’ve spoken to, who’ve worked in ice rinks for a long time, no one’s ever heard of anyone getting their fingers sliced off. The worst injury I’ve heard of was a person who managed to dislocate both shoulders at the same time.’

There’s only one way to deal with Christmas music: get used to it

‘The soundtrack isn’t too bad until you get to the Christmas tunes. The same playlist will probably go round about three times a shift, but it depends who’s working and who’s in charge of the music. You just have to embrace it and learn to sing along to them all.’

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