The Inverness Ice Centre is to benefit from a £685,000 funding package for essential upgrades ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Inverness-born Olympian and triple world champion curler Ewan MacDonald said it will set athletes on course in their training for the big event in South Korea.
The funding will be used to build a new bespoke chiller pack with air-cooled condensers and ice control system, resulting in a 25-30% saving, which equates to a five-figure sum annually in running costs.
It is also hoped that the upgrades will brighten and modernise the centre and encourage more first time ice skaters through the front door in the future.
Olympians and World, European and Paralympic medalists, including Ewan MacDonald, use the facility alongside curling teams, figure and dance skating groups.
Public skaters, synchro skaters, ice hockey clubs and the Highland Wheelchair Curling Club also use the rink on a regular basis.
Mr MacDonald, who regularly trains at the centre, said: “The Inverness Ice Centre is our only training facility in the Highland region and this funding comes at a brilliant time, when athletes are preparing to train in the run up to the winter Olympics in 2018.
“The upgrades are going to make a huge difference to the quality of the ice and importantly allow for speedy change over to different disciplines allowing skaters and curlers more opportunities to compete and train.”
Tom Pendreigh, Chair of Inverness Ice Centre, said: “We have secured the funding through various different sources, including over £80,000 of own funds – and we are now delighted to move forward with this essential project which is central to the Inverness Ice Centre’s longevity.”
Work is already underway on the project, and the Inverness Ice Centre, which has a total of 10 employees, is now closed to members and the public until its opening date, expected to be the first week in September.
Funding came from SportScotland, Highland Council’s capital grant fund, Highlands and Islands Enteprise, the World Curling Federation and Inverness Ice Centre.
The Inverness Ice Centre changed ownership a number of times before its users bought it in 2002, and it became a charitable organisation as part of the process.