Each winter, thousands of ice skaters glide around the Guidant John Rose MN OVAL, North America's largest sheet of outdoor refrigerated ice located right here in Roseville.
Taylor Driesen is the city’s new ice arena maintenance staff member working behind the scenes making sure the experience goes smoothly.
She is one of three ice technicians, overseeing putting in the ice in mid-November. She maintains and monitors the OVAL’s massive refrigeration system. But most visitors will recognize Taylor as the OVAL’s main Zamboni driver, which she says is one of the coolest parts of the job.
In the winter, resurfacing the ice occupies a big chunk of her time. It takes 45 minutes to one hour to Zamboni the entire OVAL, Taylor said. Typically, she’ll do it in sections as many as 5-10 times a day.
Taylor said she enjoys being a bit of a trailblazer in her profession.
“It’s kind of cool to be one of the few women that get to do these kinds of roles,” she said.
Taylor grew up in Alton, Iowa and attended Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, majoring in sports management. She knew she wanted to pursue a career in parks and recreation and, through a series of summer jobs, found herself drawn to the maintenance and technical side.
"One day I decided I wanted to drive a Zamboni," Taylor said. “I just like maintenance, working with my hands. I like to do hard work. It’s fun to stay active.”
She has experience maintaining ice at other facilities including Braemar Arena in Edina.
Taylor said she enjoys keeping systems running and creating a seamless experience for the speed skaters, bandy and hockey players, and leisure users who come for open skating.
Taylor has attended specialized training to understand the complexities of the OVAL’s state-of-the-art refrigeration system located in a massive mechanical room on site.
“There are five different zones that cool the OVAL,” Taylor explains. “There are pipes underneath the cement. A brine solution is pumped through those pipes consistently chilling the ice. That allows us to have ice all season long even when it's 40 degrees outside.”
She also knows the ins and outs of the Zamboni. The ice resurfacer travels about eight miles per hour but there’s skill involved including slightly overlapping each pass to prevent ridges from forming.
Even though her work is often behind the curtain, Taylor said it’s rewarding to see folks have fun.
“I get to see happy people enjoying the ice,” Taylor said. “I have nephews who play hockey for Roseville, so it’s cool to have them come skate here. All their friends know me and will say hi.”
During the warm-weather months, Taylor pivots to maintaining the grounds around the OVAL. Taylor lives in Roseville. In her free time, she still enjoys slipping into the driver’s seat: she likes to jet ski and ride motorcycles.
The OVAL's 30th season kicks off this year on November 10th - click here to learn more!