Not all ice rinks need cold temperatures to stay solid.
The Pond Ice Rink in Auburn recently installed a synthetic skating rink using state-of-the-art technology to be used for both hockey stick handling and skating, Pond owner Elisa Nash said.
“We have the best system there is right now,” she added.
Synthetic ice is plastic infused with chemicals to create a high density molecular structure.
This ultra-glide technology offers just enough friction to allow skaters to glide across the synthetic ice just as on real ice, according to Glice, a company that engineers synthetic ice.
One advantage of synthetic ice is that skaters don’t have to sharpen their blades as often.
Tom Fritsche, hockey co-coordinator at the Pond, said that synthetic ice has been gaining popularity as it becomes more efficient and realistic every year. Synthetic ice can be purchased in pieces as a tongue and groove system, or a puzzle system, and is sold in varying degrees of thickness, Mr. Fritsche, 32, said. This allows buyers to create the shape and size of skating area needed.
The Pond’s synthetic ice rink, spanning 18-by-60 feet, is comprised of 6.5-by-3.5 foot panels. Each panel is about half an inch thick.
Ms. Nash, Mr. Fritsche and hockey co-coordinator Tom Moores, 44, spent a lot of time determining the best size, system and thickness for the synthetic ice to serve their athletes. The synthetic ice rink can fit eight to 10 small children or four adults.
The synthetic system is in addition to the conventional cold ice rink.
“We want to evolve more into a training facility so we can be the cutting edge in Cleveland in training our kids,” said Ms. Nash, 58.
She cited the Pond’s dedication to hockey as the reason for installing a new synthetic ice rink. The Pond is the home rink to six local athletic programs, including Aurora High School, Chagrin Falls High School, Kenston High School, Orange High School, Chagrin Valley Figure Skating Club and Geauga Youth Hockey.
Synthetic ice has more resistance, Mr. Fritsche and Mr. Moores agree, so young athletes push harder without realizing it. This helps in the conditioning process.
“The main reason that we decided to go with that was to provide kids with an extra tool to increase their skills,” Mr. Moores said. “Not only can they get on-ice instruction but also off-ice instruction.”
Another new addition this month to the Pond is a synthetic ice treadmill. Purchased used from Puckmasters formerly of Warrensville Heights, the treadmill is a conditioning tool for hockey players.
Ms. Nash said that the players use the treadmill to work on their stride and endurance; athletes cannot spend more than 7 minutes on this challenging machine. There is a harness for safety and the treadmill has an emergency shut-off button if someone falls or trips while using the machine. The treadmill also has a range of speeds, with 15 mph as an average speed for most users, Mr. Fritsche said.
The synthetic ice rink and treadmill at the Pond, 9999 E. Washington St. in Auburn, are now open for use.
As hockey season approaches, the real ice will be reserved often, so the synthetic ice serves as an economical and convenient alternative for training, Ms. Nash said.