When I was a kid, there was a frog pond by my house in Maine. It would freeze in the winter and we would clear off the snow for skating. It was great fun and I got pretty good at skating. Now that I live in Florida, my opportunities for skating have been rather limited. While Tallahassee did consider an indoor rink at one point, nothing ever became of it.
On Friday I got the chance to skate. Sort of. A small rink was created using synthetic ice (plastic) and for $6 one could “skate” for an hour. I figured it would be different from actual ice, but was a bit taken aback by how different it was.
The fake ice is actually quite slippery-folks were dropping with thuds left and right. That part provides an authentic ice skating (or falling) experience. However, the actual skating is very different from real skating.
When I tried to move, I noticed that the skates either slid too much so I could not get a good push off, or they “grabbed” the plastic too much and put me in danger of falling. When I could get going, the friction slowed me down far quicker than on real ice. The smooth and graceful flying over true ice was replaced by an ugly, slow shuffle in which I tried to get up to speed without my skates either sliding sideways or sticking into the plastic. There was, to say the least, no skating magic.
I can see why some people do train on the fake ice-it is a much harder workout than skating. You have to really work to get any decent speed and balancing is harder. However, for a pleasure skate it was less than awesome.
I have heard some good things about synthetic ice. Obviously it is easier to maintain than an indoor skating rink and cheaper. However, real ice seems worth the price. Of course, there are no doubt many different types of synthetic ice. I suspect that some of it is actually quite good, especially when properly maintained. The rink I tried was a temporary one, set up downtown for the holidays. I would suppose that permanent rinks would be more like the real thing. However, I still prefer the real thing.