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The roof of the ice stadium in Garmisch, Germany, is sturdy and not under threat of collapsing despite recent heavy snowfall, the rink manager said Wednesday.

About 2,600 Americans connected with the Defense Department live in the Garmisch area, and tourists and groups of American youngsters sometimes use the rink.

After Monday afternoon’s roof collapse at a rink in Bad Reichenhall, another German Alpine town located 75 miles to the east, Garmisch officials checked on the safety of their rink’s roof, according to Andreas Wittig, the rink manager.

“We [check] our building from time to time, every two weeks,” Wittig said. “I was surprised this happened in Bad Reichenhall, but in Garmisch we have no problem.”

Wittig said his building’s roof, which was built in 1964, was designed to withstand about 180 kilograms of weight per square meter, or about 37 pounds per square foot. The current weight of snow on the roof was around 115 kilograms per square meter, Wittig said.

In addition, the slanted roof of the Garmisch rink was made mostly of steel, Wittig said, while Bad Reichenhall’s flat roof, which was built in 1972, was held up by wooden crossbeams.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 14 bodies had been recovered in Bad Reichenhall. Most were children and teenagers who were skating during their winter holiday.

American children sometimes skate at the rink in Garmisch.

“Some days we have about 30 (American schoolchildren) here,” Wittig said. “Some days we have just some of the hotel guests here.”

Olaf Zwicker, principal of Garmisch Elementary/Middle School, said the school holds no classes or intramural activities at the rink.

“I know that occasionally some go there for a birthday party or something,” Zwicker said. “I would say parents discourage that for the moment. We’ve had quite a snowfall; no sense in taking a chance.”

Zwicker, who has lived in Garmisch for six years, said he believed the rink was not heavily used by Americans, whom he said preferred skiing and snowboarding.

The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort advertises events at the rink, such as curling and hockey games, according to Edelweiss spokesman Brad Hays.

“It’s something to do while in Garmisch,” Hays said. “Participation is not high, but it’s a nice winter activity to go for a skate at night.”

Snowfall in Garmisch has been comparable to that in Bad Reichenhall.

No official tally of snowfall is kept in Garmisch, according to Senior Airman Benjamin Milo, a regional forecaster with the 21st Operational Weather Squadron in Sembach. Instead, they simply phone the security gate guards to ask how much snow is on the ground.

“In the last two weeks there has been between nine and 10 inches [of new snowfall],” Milo said. “Information is pretty tough to come by. They can at least give us an estimate of what’s coming down.”

Wittig, the rink manager, said that people have continued to skate at the Garmisch rink despite the Bad Reichenhall event.

“This [snowfall] is about normal for Garmisch,” he said. “Last year we had much more snow.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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