Iceless Skating Rinks - Cool Idea for a Warming World
Global warming may have put a chill into the hearts of winter sports fans, but Japan's Mitsubishi Plastics' reply is "bring it on!" Through their subsidiary company Astro Corp., Mitsubishi will be introducing the newest generation of iceless skating rinks to Japan this coming June.
The technology was originally developed in Spain by Extraice S.L. and Astro Corp. is the company's exclusive agent in Japan. Ice skating surged in popularity following figure skater Shizuka Arakawa's gold medal triumph in the last Winter Olympics and the crowded country has not been able to meet the demand for rink space.
Iceless rinks not only can be set up in warmer parts of Japan, but are also much cheaper to operate: approximately $190,000 a year can be saved in electricity and water costs.
19-year-old amateur skater Risa Mochizuki agrees, saying, "There aren't enough rinks in Japan, so this is definitely a plus. It may be difficult to practice everything on this rink surface, but it's good for partial moves like spins and steps." Here's Mochizuki showing her stuff on a demonstration resin rink surface set up by Astro Corp. in Yokohama:
The new iceless skating rinks will be formed from 6-ft by 3-ft plastic panels, each weighing 84 lbs. and measuring just under an inch thick. A special wax is applied to the surface of the panels once they're assembled. The end result is a surface that is nearly 90% as "slippery" as real ice and can be skated on using normal, unmodified ice skates. Pretty slick, if you ask us!