Ice Gurus

Ice tailoring appears to be the new Olympic challenge. Ice must be tailored to each athlete's needs, e.g. long-track speed skaters prefer a surface as low as -7 to -8°C, whilst figure skaters need to dig their skates into the ice in order to pull off their triple axels and require temperatures between -3 to -4°C… So how do they do it? The ice gurus use an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of the ice surface and they modify it by running a type of anti-freeze through pipes under the rink. The making of each slab of ice requires high precision. Firstly, the floor is misted with several layers of pure mineral-free water to form the base of the rink; this surface is then evenly coated with white paint to achieve that pristine wintry gleam. After a few more applications of water, the necessary markings are added to the ice. The rink is then flooded with more water to create sheets of ice approximately 1/16th of an inch thick. A Zamboni then cleans the ice by shaving off a layer, then applies hot water to the surface. The hot water penetrates the ice, helping to meld the subsurface layers of ice into a uniform block. Given that it has fewer air bubbles than cold water, the ice is stronger once it solidifies.