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Synthetic ice, the new rage

What Are You Skating On?

When you apply pressure to ice, it melts. When you ice skate, the blade of your skate presses against the ice which creates a thin film of water that acts as a lubricant to allow the blade to slide.

While skating, you are really skating on a thin film of water. At Kwik Rink, we’ll recreate that same experience for you using synthetic ice panels. Ask us how.

What is Synthetic Ice?

Synthetic ice, sometimes referred to as artificial ice, is a surface that simulates that of frozen h²o.  Synthetic ice panels have been around for decades, enabling year-round skating but due to a multitude of performance issues, synthetic ice rinks never quite caught on.

Thankfully, we’ve made significant improvements in synthetic ice panel designs that have drastically improved the quality and experience of synthetic ice rinks.

You Need an Even Surface

Most synthetic ice rinks use a puzzle or dovetail system in which ice panels are interlocked horizontally but not vertically. This system can cause a shift in the panels, which causes the ice to be uneven. Puzzle connections are long and can allow dirt and water to enter, creating an uneven surface or shifting panels.

By utilizing a tongue and groove, the ice panels are interlocked both horizontally and vertically. Interlocking the synthetic ice panels this way prevents the panels from shifting in any direction. This connection system creates a smooth, even surface, just like real ice.

Less Friction = Better Skating

Many synthetic ice panels are composed of low-quality materials that cause friction. This friction causes an unsatisfactory skating experience, dulling skates in the process.

A skater’s smooth flow requires there be no friction. Friction makes gliding difficult, requiring more effort, and also makes a skater exert more energy which detracts from the enjoyment of skating. The highest quality materials must be used to create synthetic ice panels to get the best skating experience.

You Want An Authentic Ice Experience

Most companies utilize new technologies to manufacture synthetic ice panels in an attempt to make skating as easy and as pleasant as possible. However, most plastic ice rinks fail to recreate an authentic ice-like feeling on their synthetic surfaces.

You need to look for ice rinks that use the newest high-quality material and create a response identical to that of authentic ice. Only when a skater feels they are truly skating on ice can they reach their highest potential.

No More Shavings and Abrasions

The Synthetic Ice Buyer’s Guide lists shavings and abrasions as one of the top considerations in selecting a synthetic ice panel for purchase. Inferior quality synthetic ice panels cause shavings and abrasions.

These low-quality panels make the ice rink messy, are hard to clean, and leave skaters unhappy. Using self-lubricating panels adds to the quality of the synthetic ice rink.

No Additional Chemicals

No chemicals need to be added to self-lubricating synthetic ice panels to create a smooth surface. However, this alone does not guarantee exceptional performance.

Every aspect of the synthetic rink process from the production of the synthetic ice panels using the highest quality materials, to the mechanism and pattern by which the panels are connected, to the care of the panels themselves, determine a quality synthetic ice rink.

Stop Dulling Your Blades

If you want to stop blades from being dulled from friction, you will need a premium glide technology with enhanced molecular structure. Low-quality plastic ice rinks do not incorporate this technology, which makes skating difficult and miserable.

Synthetic ice rinks that utilize a premium glide technology enhance the skaters’ glide and allow you to have a better grip just like real ice rinks. These are the perfect conditions for you to attain your skating goals.

High-Quality Materials are a Bargain

Buying cheap synthetic ice panels will cost you in the long run. There are many lower priced, synthetic ice panels which are also of lower quality that will not last. Low quality, cheap, synthetic ice panels, get discolored from the sun and changing weather conditions, many even begin to break down and degrade considerably.

Assurance Your Rink Will Last

High-quality synthetic ice panels incorporate UV protection. The manufacturers know high-quality raw materials are vital to ensure the life and usefulness of quality synthetic ice panels.

If you purchase a quality synthetic ice rink, it will provide long-lasting enjoyment. A high-quality synthetic ice rink will be well worth your investment

Accessories Are Important

Using low-quality accessories will ruin a synthetic ice rink. If your skates are sub-par or your dasher-boards are foul, they’re going to impact your rink negatively. If you want to maintain that even, flawless, synthetic ice, the use of high-quality, compatible, durable accessories is essential to your success. Don’t skimp on the accessories!

Synthetic Rinks Are Gaining Popularity

Using synthetic ice panels to create ice rinks is gaining popularity. Synthetic ice panels have some significant advantages over traditional ice rinks. Synthetic ice panels can get used continuously without re-surfacing and gliding on synthetic ice panels is much more consistent than that of real ice.

The glide factor on traditional ice starts at 100% then reduces to approximately 80% after just a few hours of usage, unlike glide-factor of synthetic ice panels on which does not diminish over time.

Synthetic ice panels are more economical than traditional ice. There is no need to replenish water or use electricity for refrigeration. Synthetic ice panels are environmentally friendly.

Skate Anytime You Want

By utilizing synthetic ice panels, you can have that ice rink you’ve always dreamed. You can have the flexibility to practice your sport at any time. You can play ice hockey in the summer and fulfill all of your icy desires.

Let’s Get Skating

Are you in the market for a fantastic, all-year ice rink? If so, Kwik Rink has what you are looking for. At Kwik Rink we’ll provide you the realistic feel of an ice rink in the form of the highest quality synthetic ice panels preferred by professionals and experts. We use only the highest quality materials and employ the newest technology to provide you a fantastic synthetic ice rink experience.

Give us a call at Kwik Rink, and we’ll get you skating right away.

Toronto Maple Leafs Synthetic Ice by KwikRink

Attempts to imitate the glorious gliding of a frozen ice rink have been around for a long time.

In June 1844, the Glaciarium opened in London, after a couple of smaller rinks concocted by inventor Henry Kirk convinced investors a bigger venture was commercially viable.

It wasn’t, as the public never quite adjusted to the smell of the “ice” — a mixture of salts, sulfate of copper, and lard — and the Glaciarium closed within the year. Luckily, artificial ice has come a long way since those early beginnings, and you no longer need to wear a mask over your nose to enjoy a skate.

The first true synthetic ice surfaces — formed from a plastic known as polyoxymethylene — arrived in the 1960s. But, with rough, draggy surfaces that required skates to be re-sharpened in less time than it takes to play an NHL period, they were slow to catch on.

You also couldn’t skate across the plastic polymer without applying silicone on top. As you might expect, the oily compound on top of the surface was a magnet for dirt and grime. 

The origins of modern synthetic ice aren’t pretty, but they paved the way for today’s self-lubricating and non-smelly product that reproduces roughly 90% of natural ice feel.

Things are different now.

There are a variety of products on the market, some claiming a coefficient of friction roughly the same as real ice, while others claim no reliable scientific comparison exists. But inarguably, synthetic ice is gaining wider acceptance as a tool for NHL players — as well as amateur skaters of every stripe — to augment their time on a frozen pond.

Many NHL clubs, as well as semi-pro and amateur leagues, use synthetic ice rinks for practice these days while regulation games are still played on natural ice, that used to be the case for grass football fields as well. 

Time was that only natural grass was used in professional games and stadiums, or championships like the Super Bowl. Then, artificial turf got better and better, coming closer to the performance of real grass and outperforming it in others. Now, 32 NFL teams play their games on artificial turf. 

NHL hockey may not be far behind as synthetic ice continues to advance in glide, performance, and durability. A top-of-the-line KwikRink Synthetic Ice ® rink installation is much less expensive than installing and maintaining a natural ice rink.

The cooling costs to keep the rink at the proper temperature and humidity are very high for a natural ice installation, leading more clubs to use synthetic ice as much as they can. In the NHL now, synthetic ice is a reality.

Puck-Friendly Playability

Unlike most rink alternatives, synthetic ice allows the use of a real puck. Thus, many around the NHL have embraced such surfaces as an economical way to extend opportunities to shoot and handle the puck.

Heading into the 2017-18 season, the Toronto Maple Leafs installed a synthetic pad at their training center — a shooting range next to their main rink displayed as a 60-foot zone from the blue line (pictured above).

Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov, who this year became the youngest Lightning player ever to score 100 points in a season, works on his shot on a synthetic pad in his two-car garage — 20 minutes per session, twice a day during the offseason.

Many other current and former NHL players have installed synthetic ice for personal use as well. Garages, basements, driveways, and decks can all become practice rinks to keep specific key skills up to par, and it’s not just for the pros.

Training’s Friendly Faux

Most of us, when we can’t afford or access ice time, have limited training options: a slide board, roller blades, maybe a nice tile floor and a portable net. But there’s no real puck, no ice skates,  and no opportunity to work on many of the skills you’ll need on the ice.

When you train, you build muscle memory, so you want your muscles to learn the way the skill feels under the conditions you will use it. Practicing shooting in your tennis shoes or even on roller blades isn’t the same as putting on your skates and working with the glide and friction of ice.

Synthetic ice affords the opportunity to practice shooting, stick-handling and skating on a surface that closely mimics a real rink. Some of the training benefits of synthetic ice include:

  1. It’s easier than ice. With synthetic ice, there’s no refrigeration and no climate control necessary to maintain a surface that can be installed in virtually any indoor setting from a basement to a garage to a warehouse. And a vacuum is a lot cheaper than a Zamboni.
  2. It’s harder than ice. You see runners doing sprint training harnessed to parachutes. Baseball players swing weighted bats. Pro hockey players know one of the great benefits to synthetic ice workouts is that the material isn’t quite as smooth as the real thing — it takes more effort to get where you want to go. It’s a subtle boost to your workout that will make you feel that much faster when you hit the ice.
  3. It’s cheaper than ice. Especially in warm-weather months and climates, real ice is hard to find, and time on it can get expensive. Synthetic ice is one way to clear the cost and availability hurdles, and can even be installed on a smooth outdoor surface.

Melting Apprehension

You won’t have to worry about rising temperatures, melting ice, or unsafe surfaces when you use synthetic. You also don’t have uneven spots or dips from different temperature levels.

When it comes to skating surfaces, it might not be ice — but synthetic products are still pretty cool. At least, that’s the take the Florida Panthers came away with when hosting the first hockey clinic in Barbados during the summer of 2017.

On a 60-foot-by-35-foot synthetic surface, locals showed some impressive skills.

“It’s a little bit different skating on,” defenseman Alex Petrovic said. “But some of the kids that come here regularly are actually really good at skating on it.”

Pay attention to the kind of synthetic ice you plan to install. There are varying levels of quality, durability, and glide. Thinner panels are less expensive, but wear out much more quickly. Inferior polymers lead to higher friction and resistance and less ice-like feel. Smaller tiles instead of larger panels lead to additional seams that can trap dirt.

KwikRink has helped install synthetic ice rinks for NHL teams and players for years. We’ve also helped private citizens convert a garage into a practice rink and communities that have never had access to ice skating learn the fun and sport. 

With synthetic ice from KwikRink, more people around the globe can become skaters. Maybe the next Stanley Cup MVP will be from Barbados, and he learned to skate on synthetic ice.

Which is really the point, isn’t it? Synthetic ice can help create better skaters — and shooters, and stick-handlers — anywhere by reproducing the playability characteristics of ice at a fraction of the cost.

 

Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online hockey store that offers pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3, and hasn’t put it down yet.