Over 50 years ago synthetic ice made its first public appearance. In the early 1960s, developers created a type of synthetic ice flooring that people were actually able to ice skate on. Back then there were not as many scientific discoveries as there are today, so the first attempts at ice-like flooring were a bit cumbersome.
The first instances of artificial ice flooring were, to say the least, awkward. Although the flooring was tough enough to handle the sharp blades of the ice skates, there was no way for the metal to gracefully slide across the surface the way that it would on real ice.
In order for the skaters to successfully skate on the surface, there would have to be a constant supply of lubricant applied to the floor. Once the floor was nice and slick with the silicone-based lube, ice skates could lumber clumsily across the floor.
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As time has passed, new discoveries have been made within all facets of technology, including the making, and formulation of plastics. The problem with the synthetic ice from long ago is that there was no way to create a flooring that would allow skaters to slide across the surface in the same manner as they would when they were skating on real ice.
When ice skates glide across frozen water they cause friction between the blades of the ice skates and the surface of the hard ice. This friction causes heat. The heat, in turn, causes a little of the ice to melt where the blades are touching the surface. The melted ice, also known as water, causes the skates to have their own lubrication system as they move along.
Developers have been working on a way to create a type of flooring that mimics the way that ice melts and provides a thin layer of lube for the oncoming skaters for a very long time. The technology that goes into creating polymer plastics became the answer that they were looking for.
Polymers are naturally occurring chains that happen in much organic material on the planet Earth. In fact, our DNA strands are known as polymer chains. Polymer chains are where molecules chain together in a string, or strand to make up the structure of a compound.
Scientists learned that they can fabricate man-made polymers in order to construct a substance on a molecular level.
It is within this discovery that developers found that they can create their own special polymers that include lubricants and conditioners within the construction so that they can form a synthetic ice flooring that has the capability to produce lubricants to the surface of the flooring as skaters glide across. In the same manner, as ice skates cause friction for the ice to melt and produce a thin layer of water, the customized polymer plastic produces a small amount of lubricant as the skates make their way across the flooring.
What This All Means
If you were to skate across a real ice flooring for half an hour, then skate across a high-quality synthetic ice flooring for a half-hour, you would notice a difference in the way that the skates handle themselves upon the flooring. On the real ice, you would find a nice, slick smooth experience that does not have much drag.
When you skate across the synthetic ice in the same pair of skates you will immediately notice that there is a bit of a drag in the way that you glide across the floor. Although the synthetic flooring is designed to bring lubricants up to the surface of the floor as you skate, it is still a bit different than skating on traditional ice.
As you skate across the synthetic ice flooring you will have to push yourself just a little bit harder than you would when you are skating on real ice. Not so hard that it is difficult to move, or that will hinder your ability to skate and maneuver a hockey puck, but enough to where you will cause yourself to gain strength by continually pushing yourself on a higher level of resistance.
Building Muscle and Stamina
Most people already know that when they go to the gym and lift weights it causes the muscles to work harder, which in turn builds muscle and strength. It is no secret that when athletes push themselves harder in training that they will ultimately reap the benefits of their struggles by gaining strength and stamina.
So this is the way that skating and training on synthetic ice can give a competitive advantage for the people that use it.
Say, for instance, you walk for 45 minutes a day on a treadmill without any kind of grade. As you walk, you are walking on a flat surface that does not cause you to work harder to keep up the pace. Imagine adjusting the treadmill to walk at a 25% incline grade while you walk at the same pace. You will immediately feel the difference when you start walking on an incline. Your muscles will tense up, your heart rate will rise, and you will feel the strain.
When you continually walk at an incline, you cause your body to work harder in order to maintain your progress. As a result, you build muscle and stamina – especially if you repeat this exercise every day. After a while, your body gets used to it and it becomes second nature to walk in exaggerated inclines.
With synthetic ice flooring, although sometimes entire games are played on artificial ice, continual practice on it gets the body accustomed to the resistance. When players only practice on traditional ice, they only have the experience of the ice flooring, and will not be prepared for the extra work that it takes to play a game of hockey on a synthetic ice rink.
Tricks and Moves on Synthetic Ice Flooring
Ice skating is loved by many people around the world. Olympic ice skaters train for years to learn how to speed across the surface then spring upwards into the air and spiral into a breathtaking spin, then land right back on the flooring.
Learning to skate in this manner on synthetic ice flooring could be a huge challenge for some skaters, however, the ones that choose to use non-ice flooring to train for moves such as this have a huge advantage over the ones that don’t. As we explained above, it takes more strength to move across synthetic ice flooring than it does on regular ice. Just imagine how much more strength it takes to do tricks and get airborne.
Many coaches will put their teams on synthetic ice to have them practice figure eights and other strategic ice skating training exercises. It is no secret that skating on flooring makes skaters stronger and faster over time, so smart coaches will use this tidbit of knowledge to get their players in tip-top shape.
Hockey is an extremely competitive sport that takes lots of strength and endurance to be any good at. If you can’t play long enough to score points, you will never win a game. Practicing on synthetic ice flooring is only one way to get a competitive edge over the other team. Continual training and rigorous practice is how champions are made, and is the only way that a person can become a respectable opponent in a real game. Keep practicing, even when you don’t want to. If you practice harder than the opponent, you have a good chance of beating them.