There are varying opinions regarding the ease of ice skating on synthetic ice. Some people say that when they try to skate on it they have a hard time gliding across the flooring without experiencing snags and stops. Other people love skating on synthetic ice panels, and can’t tell the difference. What it all boils down to is the quality of the ice panels. If you skate on quality ice flooring, you will most likely have an easy and pleasant skating experience. As for synthetic ice being easy to skate on…that’s a matter of opinion.
What happens when ice skates glide across real ice as they skate around the rink is that the metal blades cause heat to appear where the blades touch the ice. This heat, in turn, causes a little bit of the ice to melt as the skates travel across it. As the blades from the skates continue to stay in contact with the ice, the ice continues to melt as the skaters glide on. The water from the melting ice acts as a natural lubricant for the skates and everything just smoothly makes its way around the track.
Synthetic ice, on the other hand, is not made out of water. Because it is created out of a plastic substance, the way that the plastic was created will determine the way that the ice skates will interact with the flooring as people skate across it.
In the old days, when artificial ice was first created, the flooring had to be lubricated and maintained in order for people to be able to skate on it. At first, the lubrication had to be applied constantly during the use of the flooring, or it would not allow skaters to be able to move very well at all across it. On top of the constant application of lubricant, since the lube was silicone-based, it had to be continually scraped and removed from the surface or it would cause a glue-like buildup that hindered the skaters.
At that point in time, artificial ice was not easy to skate on. It took a lot of extra effort in order for people to skate on it. The skating experience was nothing like the easy, smooth glide of skating on real ice.
Synthetic Ice of Today
The synthetic ice that is available on the market today is much different than it was in the 1960s. The type of plastic that manufacturers use is a polymer-based plastic that was not used back then. With polymers, the developers are able to create a type of plastic that is infused with conditioners, lubricating agents, and other compounds that can change the molecular structure of the flooring in a way that allows it to almost completely mimic synthetic ice. When skaters glide across the surface, the friction creates a disturbance in the plastic that causes the lubricants within to come to the surface…much like water gets produced from the heat on the ice. When skaters skate on high-quality synthetic ice it is much like skating on real ice. There is a little bit of a drag, but not enough to be difficult or impossible to skate across. In fact, the drag helps to build strength and stamina for the skaters.
So…Is it Easy?
Ice skating is not easy regardless of what flooring it is on. Although skating on real ice is the most natural form of ice skating, the people that skate on artificial ice can skate on it just as easily as they can on real ice. Easy is a word that is subject to interpretation. Skating on synthetic ice might be easier for some than it is for others. The experience and skill level of the skater, coupled with the quality of the ice flooring will determine whether or not it is actually easy for the particular individual.
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