SmartRInk synthetic ice FAQs

Can you skate on it?

Having sold synthetic ice for over 10 years now, we've often heard or read comments from people that "it's not the same as real ice" or "it's 80 to 90 percent the glide factor of regular ice" or "it's like ice in the 2nd period".

The resistance or friction of synthetic ice is slightly more than that of traditional ice but it does not take long for any skater to adapt to synthetic ice and have hours of fun skating or playing hockey on it as you can see in the video.  A city worker asked to borrow our installers skates to try a SmartRink for the first time.

Our view is that it has a "100% skateability factor".  Meaning you can do all of the same skating manoeuvres on synthetic ice as you can on refrigerated or frozen pond ice.  Two foot stops, tight turns, cross-overs, pivots, frontward and backward strides can all be done on synthetic ice.  

 Will a SmartRink ruin my blades?

Skating on any surface, real ice or synthetic ice, will dull the edges over time. Since most synthetic ice rinks are small, kids tend to use their edges more than they normally do on large real ice surfaces. With the amount of skating they do on synthetic ice compared to the amount of time standing around on real ice, you will find that the skates will need to be sharpened more often. Some synthetic ice surfaces have more friction that others. This will affect the rate at which the edges become dull. 

Real ice has friction too. Some will argue that real ice is more damaging to blades because the ice absorbs airborne grit and burs from skate blades. The ice becomes sandpaper. What ruins skate blades mostly is the walk from the change room to the ice surface. The blades will make contact with stones, screws and concrete and the edge becomes damaged or lost. 

Will a SmartRink reveal a weakness in skating?
A few of years ago, we had invited someone to test one of our rinks for a rink they were planning to build.  The gentlemen arrived with a pair of vintage circa 1960s skates complete with rusted blades.   We thought about calling the Hockey Hall of Fame to see if they were missing a pair.  He informed us that he has not skated in a few years and proceeded to take a spin.  After 20 minutes of striding and turning, he told us he didn't like it.  It's not the same as skating on real ice.   In contrast, we get others who ask to try the ice for just 15 minutes and don't leave until an hour later because their kids are having so much fun skating.

We've had people of all ages, different skill levels and with all types of skates enjoy skating on our SmartRinks.  What I've discovered is that real ice is very forgiving to identify flaws in skate blades and a player's skating ability. 

A recent customer commented on their boys' difficulty to perform some skating manoeuvres.  Right away we asked for the skates and immediately noticed two problems.  Firstly, there was hardly any length of the blade that made contact with ice.  The curvature had about a 3" radius at each end meaning that only the middle of the blade was making contact with the ice.  I've been told that in a stride (heel to toe push), your blade should make 2 inches of contact with the ice throughout the length of the blade.  Secondly, the heel of the blade was shorter than the toe.  Their son has been skating uphill on a flat surface.  

We used to get my skates sharpened at the same place that sharpened my lawn mower blade. For the past 10 years, our local professional skate sharpener looked after the hockey community.  We've spent hours with them to learn about proper balance and achieving that through sharpening techniques.  Any new pair of skates that you buy, get them 'profiled'.  The height, weight and age of the player is taken into consideration to shape the blades for improved speed and control.  After every sharpening, the blades should be the same height, balanced from edge to edge, have the proper radius of hollow and be cleaned of fine steel burs left on the blade from sharpening them.  

A correct sharpening will allow you to easily perform skating manoeuvres on synthetic ice and improve your performance in games.

Kids adapt to synthetic ice in about 60 seconds and then you can't get them off it.  However, when it comes to skating backwards, they take a moment to find their balance.  They cheat backwards skating on real ice.  Posture is straight and little muscle is used.  Coaches with tell them, 'shoulders over knees, knees over toes to get power in their backward stride or c-cut.  SmartRink has just enough resistance to reveal skating skill weaknesses like this.  Once identified, corrected and practiced over and over again, the players show more power and control in their skating at games and practices.  

Can you flood on a SmartRink?

That is a question we get asked by all of our outdoor SmartRink customers.  There's something about the age-old tradition of mastering the perfect backyard rink.  It usually involves trial and error of hose connections at 10 p.m. in -20 degree temperature.  

Having a backyard SmartRink gives you a level surface to work with.  Your ice build up only needs to be about 3".  We like this because you are not having to use much water to achieve a naturally refrigerated glide.  

There are watering techniques to follow depending on the type of SmartRink panel you have.  First, be sure to place a Loonie at centre ice.  Once you have your ice base, use hot water to 'flood' your rink.  It smooths out the bumps, fills the ruts and freezes faster than cold water.  Remember to remove sticks and nets from your rink when not in use.  Once the sun comes out, they start to melt into the ice and get locked into the ice overnight.

When the big thaw occurs, you just need to wait for the ice to clear and then you will have your synthetic ice surface to skate on until the next deep freeze in 48 weeks.