Synthetic ice has been available for decades, and while it was initially distrusted by casual skaters and athletes alike is it becoming an increasingly popular choice in recreational ice rinks.
Synthetic ice rinks are generally made from interlocking panels of solid polymer material that are specifically designed for skating using normal metal-bladed skates. From afar, they are indistinguishable from traditional ice rinks. Up close, however, the plastic panels that make them up look as if they’ve been snapped together like pieces from an immense puzzle.
Recently, synthetic ice rinks have been opened to the public at New York’s Museum of Natural History and in cities like Great Bend, Kansas, Tallahassee, Florida, and Middletown, Delaware. The booming popularity of synthetic ice rinks can be attributed to the long list of benefits they provide rink owners and skaters alike.
On a rapidly warming planet, is getting costlier to maintain an authentic ice rink. Synthetic ice does not require the expensive refrigeration technologies that real ice does. A refrigeration unit can cost millions of dollars to install and can cost tens of thousands of dollars to maintain annually. Even a small conventional ice rink can spend $10,000 per month on refrigeration expenses, while a larger arena can easily spend vastly more.
Synthetic ice rinks are also much easier to maintain than traditional rinks. The maintenance work once done by Zambonis can now be done with just some scrubbers and vacuum cleaners.
Synthetic ice is not just less expensive to install and maintain than real ice: it offers a host of advantages that hospitality venues and trainers are just now beginning to appreciate. Synthetic ice can be used in hot weather without difficulty, and the slide levels on its surface will remain unchanged even after hours of use. In addition, synthetic ice can now be expected to deliver a glide that closely mimics natural ice. Hockey players freely acknowledge that synthetic ice offers them a perfect surface for training and that it provides them with a glide rate indistinguishable from real ice.