logoFritz Dietl Ice Rink

 

A Glimpse At Our Rink History

Rink in 1958

The Fritz Dietl Ice Skating Studio in 1958

 

Current Rink

The current Fritz Dietl Ice Skating Rink

The Building

The history of the building at the corner of Lake Street and Broadway can be traced all the way back to 1902 when it housed a chair manufacturing firm. In the 1930's the building changed hands and became Webber's Garage until 1958 when it was purchased and converted into a skating rink by a young man named Fritz Dietl, a figure skating star and coach at The Skating Club of New York. (Located in the old Madison Square Garden on 50th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan.)

The Dream Comes to Life

Wanting to teach near his home in Bergen county where there were no rinks, Fritz realized he would have to build one. After a great deal of research he settled on Westwood, New Jersey close to public transportation.

Fritz renovated the existing building on the corner of Lake Street and Broadway and installed equipmemt from an Aspen, Colorado rink. The rink equipment (pipes, compressors, etc.), furnishings (lobby benches, rental skates, snack bar counter, which is still in place to this day), and of course the 1956 Zamboni (still in operation today) were transported across the country by train. Unbelievable today, after reaching Westwood the train stopped on the railroad tracks right across from the rink and unloaded its precious cargo.

The Early Years

After renovations to the existing building in 1958 the Fritz Dietl Ice Skating Studio opened its doors and became the first ice skating rink in Bergen county. For many years it remained the only rink in the area. And for many more years it was the only rink open in the summer months, thereby attracting, from far and wide, numerous coaches and their test and competitive figure skaters.

During the first few years of the rink's existence, Fritz put in many grueling hours running his rink (driving the Zamboni, maintaining the compressors), coaching, and running off to New York City to coach his many students at the Skating Club of New York. Eventually some of the students followed him out of the city to train with him in Westwood. Among those students was a young boy named Scott Allen who, under Fritz's guidance, went on to become the Olympic bronze medalist of 1964.

The Rink Saved Their Lives

In 1961 both Fritz and Scott Allen were booked on the ill fated United States Figure Skating team flight to Brussels which crashed killing the American figure skating team, skaters and coaches. Both Fritz and Scott narrowly escaped that disaster when Fritz had an emergency problem with the rink compressors. Dedicated to his rink, Fritz decided to reschedule their flight for the following day so he could stay behind to fix the rink equipment .

The Rink Continues

1966 brought another major renovation to the building when the ice surface was enlarged to its current size and the rink lobby was reconfigured to the current location and layout. Over the years, as more and more rinks popped up in the surrounding area, the Fritz Dietl Ice Rink continued serving the skating population. This unique rink celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008.