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  1. #1
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    Synthetic "ice" vs blades

    Hi,

    <bla bla - you can skip this paragraph if you just want to read the question >
    OK, I'll start by saying that I'm a bit spoilt since up until 2 years ago I used to live in cities that had regular skating rinks so for years I've been able to do some amateur figure skating. 2 years ago I moved to a city which does not have a normal skating rink (and the nearest rink is about 170km/100 miles away - not an option for continuing with figure skating, especially since I don't have a car). Until this year, however, around Christmas the city was setting up those small, lousy, crowded skating rinks. These were terrible but better than nothing - at off-peak hours I could even train some jumps and spins. Well, this year they decided to use synthetic "ice" instead...
    </bla bla>

    I've tried to research something about this "ice" but I can't find any reliable information - i.e. from people who do some figure skating (regardless of the level, I just mean "not people who skate once a year with their friends" but actually attempt step sequences, spins, jumps etc. and own their own skates).

    My main concern is the result the "ice" has on the blades. I did find out that even the manufacturers admit that the synthetic "ice" blunts the blades way more than real ice but I wonder how much of a problem this is. My blades are already not in their sharpest condition and I can't sharpen them (no skating rink around = no sharpener who knows what they're doing so I haven't had a chance to sharpen my blades after last year's few trips to those little skating rinks they set up; and yes, they do have sharpeners at these synthetic rinks but I wouldn't trust them with my blades).

    Except for the sharpness - is there any way in which the synthetic "ice" damages the blades? I mean as in a permanent way?

    Any other comments about skating on synthetic "ice" will be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance for your input!

  2. #2
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    I have never skated on synthetic because I hear that it dulls blades very quickly. Since I spend $17 a sharpening and my blades are Gold Seal, I don't want to risk it.

  3. #3
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    Yea, I have Gold Seal as well - hence the dilemma...

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    The only thing I know which might be helpful is contained in comments made by Ilia Kulik after he had to skate on a synthetic surface for the opening (or was it the closing) of the Paralympics in Vancouver. He found the surface dramatically frustrating because he had to sharpen his blades over and over - said it just dulled them and ripped them up in no time. He was so pleased that he skated at such a special event but the synthetic surface wasn't his favorite part of the experience and made it very hard.

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    A poster on skating forums once detailed her experience with synthetic ice- she recommended a second pair of skates if you had to spend more than just a session on it. It dulls the blades FAST. I wouldn't use Gold Seals for that.

  6. #6

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    You will need to have them re-sharpened after using them for even one or two sessions. I skated on it once years ago for less than an hour and when I got back on real ice I was sliding all over the place. I didn't even skate properly on the synthetic ice it was just going very slowly while trying to hold up some friends. I wasn't skating much at the time and figured it couldn't do that much damage- I was wrong! I guess continual use would effect the rocker. I wouldn't recommend it unless your desperate for a skate and aren't likely to be using your skates much anyway. You will find it really very different, you have to push much harder and won't get much glide. The bast way I can describe it is "sticky"


    ETA: I just noticed your in Dublin, is the one at RDS not real ice?
    Last edited by C_T_T_; 11-29-2010 at 11:52 PM.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for replies, everybody!

    Indeed, I'm in Dublin - this year they opened rinks at only two locations - RDS and Arnotts - and both of them are synthetic... Dundalk (ca. 80km/50miles away) has been "temporarily closed" for months - I could rant on for hours...

    Anyway - thanks again, I think I'll pass, it doesn't seem worth it especially since I'll be going to the US for half a year in a few months and I'm definitely taking my skates with me.

  8. #8

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    Yeah it is very fustrating. I hear rumors Dundalk will reopen in the new year but I also heard it would reopen in September so I'll believe it when I see it. Probably wise to wait, hope you get to skate lots in America to make up for it!

  9. #9
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    Hi siddhanta

    Just in case you're not aware, there is real ice in Dundrum.

    http://www.dundrumonice.ie/index.php

    I was talking to someone who has connections with the RDS and apparently the synthetic ice has not gone down well and they are scrambling to change it (can only imagine the cost ).
    To think that fun is simple fun, while earnest things are earnest, proves all too plain that neither one thou truthfully discernest.

  10. #10
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    Whoa, thanks! I had no idea Dundrum opened a skating rink! With some luck it looks like I'll even make it for a session tonight! Thanks a million!! <runs off to get her skating gear>

  11. #11

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    For those interested, here's a NY Times article from today talking about the first synthetic ice NHL sized rink in N. America. The article does talk a bit about the blades issue, but not much:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/13/sp...13ice.html?hpw
    Use Yah Blinkah!

  12. #12

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    That's an interesting article. I wonder whether this synthetic surface works better for hockey than it does for figure skating? It seems to me that if it was sufficient for hockey, maybe two-surface facilities could have one of each to help keep costs down.

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    The facility in the article plans to keep real ice during the months when they can. The real ice will go on top of the fake ice. Then when the weather is too warm, they'll use the fake ice. They seem to feel that the real ice is better; but the fake ice is better than nothing at all. So I'm not thinking the fake ice is a substitute for real ice at rinks that can have real ice - it's just that these folks cannot, so it's better than no ice at all.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

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    Does the fake ice get divots from jumps? How do they fill them in? I've never seen fake ice before.

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    Quote Originally Posted by southernskater View Post
    Does the fake ice get divots from jumps? How do they fill them in? I've never seen fake ice before.
    I've always wondered this as well...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    I've always wondered this as well...
    You're not alone...

    EDIT : I did some researches and eventually found that in this buyers* guide :
    Low usage of skate blades: lower quality synthetic ice have increased friction which means that your skate blades
    will be worn off more rapidly and then require frequent sharpening which lies between every 30 min-2 hours the
    industry average. This means you have to sharpen each skate several hundred times each month, adding staff cost
    for sharpening and blade monitoring (rink guards who tell skaters to leave the rink to go sharpening). Also steadily
    replacing grinding wheels of the skate sharpener is costly. With the best the best quality product in the market you
    will have to do sharpening maximum once per day (if used none-stop 8hrs/day).
    *According to all what I read in various websites, XtraIce is apparently considered as using the best synthetic ice technology... So, that means that a sharpening every EIGHT hours of skating is the BEST !?!!? And that's the BEST synthetic ice we can find ? Ok. Definitively not for me.
    Last edited by Diane Mars; 12-18-2010 at 01:01 PM.

  17. #17
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    I've only seen hockey players skating on synthetic ice at camps, but they HATE it. Apparently it's extremely hard work and wears blades down quickly. You need to push a lot harder so it's good for power work.

  18. #18
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    I've only tried it for hockey, but I guess some of my problems applies for figure skating as well....especially the fact that you get no power from the ice, it's just dead material, you cannot dig your skates into the ice like you are used to, and so, no ice feeling at all! I hated it, and would not recommand it, I imagine it's even worse for figure skating who really needs contact with the ice...

  19. #19

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    News story this week in Winnipeg city they want to replace some of the ice in community centres with synthetic ice to save money.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diane Mars View Post
    You're not alone...

    EDIT : I did some researches and eventually found that in this buyers* guide :


    *According to all what I read in various websites, XtraIce is apparently considered as using the best synthetic ice technology... So, that means that a sharpening every EIGHT hours of skating is the BEST !?!!? And that's the BEST synthetic ice we can find ? Ok. Definitively not for me.

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