There are few sports as technically difficult and demanding as competitive figure skating.
To pull off what many will consider a basic jump, like a toe loop, requires extensive training.
And achieving a triple Axel like Nathan Chen?
A non-stop pursuit of excellence.
On average, competitive figure skaters train for 10-20 hours per week on the ice, which equates to 2-4 hours per day.
The training must also be practical.
Skaters must use any and every advantage possible.
Jump Higher And Spin Faster With Your Own Home PolyGlide Synthetic Ice Rink
Now, skaters are seeking alternative training methods both on and off the ice, and synthetic ice can fill that gap.
Synthetic ice has rapidly become an integral tool for competitive figure skating training.
If you’re looking to take your competitive figure skating training to the next level, there are some fantastic benefits to using synthetic ice.
The Challenges of Competitive Figure Skating Training
There’s a reason why there is a small pool of competitive figure skaters.
Statistics show that there are over 9 million ice skaters in the US that cover all disciplines.
However, only a fraction of these skaters pursue competitive figure skating, and an even smaller fraction can carve out a successful career.
There are a few challenges to competitive figure skating training.
For many, there are limited ice skating facilities.
The ice time in local ice rinks must be shared with other skaters, hockey players, and other events.
There are also high costs involved in training facility access, coaches, and equipment.
Ice skating also has geographical constraints, with some states with more accessible rinks than others.
Some athletes have to travel long distances to train, incurring additional time and money.
Additionally, finding highly skilled coaches also adds to the expense and often limits the depth of competitive figure skating training one can acquire.
Figure skating has its fair share of limitations.
But this is steadily changing.
Nationwide programs are now subsidizing training while seeking top talent with limited access to resources.
And with the widespread availability of synthetic ice, a small investment can provide long-term training tools for on and off the ice.
Understanding Synthetic Ice
Synthetic ice is an innovative method of ice skating without the need for natural or refrigerated ice.
It recreates the look and feel of ice using specially designed tiles or panels.
Combined, the synthetic ice provides a smooth surface that amateurs and professionals can use for ice skating.
Each panel comes in various sizes and has edges that connect like puzzle pieces to form the rink.
Connect enough of them, and you can turn any space (indoor or outdoor) into a rink of your choosing.
The high-quality polyethylene is known for its durability.
Some are also constructed with a solid core, meaning you can skate on both sides.
As a result, you have a synthetic ice rink that lasts for several years.
Synthetic ice rinks are popular for large commercial rinks in museums, malls, carnivals, and kids’ playhouses.
Now, thanks to its customizable features, you can purchase synthetic ice for home use.
This has opened up a new market for ice skaters, especially those with competitive figure skating training.
The 5 Key Benefits of Using Synthetic Ice for Competitive Figure Skating Training
Synthetic ice has become an excellent way to skate without the cost and accessibility issues of refrigerated rinks.
Now, there are hundreds of families who have rinks at home to skate for fun or practice purposes.
Competitive skaters are also seeing the value in having a personal synthetic ice rink.
It can help their training in several ways:
A standard at-home synthetic ice rink requires an up-front cost.
However, this one-time fee far outweighs the cost of rentals and commuting daily to practice over several years.
Competitive figure skaters can adopt a hybrid approach, taking some time to skate at a full-sized rink and some time to practice at home on synthetic ice.
2. Customizable Training Environments
Synthetic ice rinks can be expanded or altered for the skater’s needs.
Adding more panels creates a larger rink, which may be necessary to work on advanced jumps.
You can also change the length or width of the rink based on the location of the rink or the specific skill you're working on.
Synthetic rinks work both indoor and outdoors.
The change of environment also does wonders for the skater’s mental health.
3. Increased Practice Time
What if you want to ramp up your training time but can’t get to the rink?
Some competitive ice skaters already put in 10+ hours of training time but want to do even more.
Setting up a synthetic ice rink at home allows them to work on weaknesses or fine-tune their routines.
If you need a better figure skating spiral, for instance, you can work on it with your personal rink.
Having immediate access to synthetic ice creates a competitive advantage that can be invaluable.
4. Year-Round Training
Synthetic ice rinks are made of a durable polyethylene that’s usable any time of year.
Unlike refrigerated or natural rinks, you can skate on synthetic ice in the summer or fall.
You can set up a synthetic ice rink for competitive figure skating training in the off-season or at a location where ice rinks are scarce, keeping you sharp and ready for the next competition.
5. More Friction Equals More Power.
A common concern with synthetic ice is the increased friction of skating on polyethylene panels.
Yes, there is a difference compared to natural ice.
However, thanks to infused synthetic ice and slip surface agents, the coefficient of friction is minimal.
Some skaters find the additional friction similar to resistance training that helps increase speed and power for when they get back to competing on natural ice.
In essence, synthetic ice rinks can be an invaluable tool for skaters at all levels.
It’s a reliable, durable, eco-friendly option and a convenient alternative to natural ice.
You can relentlessly pursue figure skating without the constraints of natural ice.
Isn’t ‘Real’ Ice Better? Let’s Address the Misconceptions
Competitive figure skaters will be performing on large refrigerated rinks in front of hundreds if not thousands of people.
Every turn, spin, and jump is carefully critiqued and scored, with the winner coming down to the narrowest of margins.
There is an argument that the more training time on these rinks, the better.
Additionally, there are some who raise doubts about the quality and suitability of synthetic ice for competitive figure skating training.
However, this is far from the truth.
Quality of Ice
Synthetic ice has evolved significantly over the years.
The first synthetic ice rinks were made over 50 years ago.
Thanks to new technology, materials, and research, the best synthetic ice rinks create a consistently smooth surface that’s ideal for training.
While there are differences in skating, the gap has significantly narrowed to a 10% coefficient of friction.
Skating creates shavings and other debris on the panels.
After cleaning the rink, skaters have found that the performance on synthetic ice improves as the rink is more ‘broken in.’
Ice quality boils down to choosing a provider with a solid track record of excellent synthetic ice.
What About Training Techniques?
Will synthetic ice have an impact on technique?
How does a flip or loop feel on synthetic ice versus natural or refrigerated rinks?
There’s a worry among skaters that synthetic ice can compromise skills and even lead to injury.
Again, we can debunk this misconception.
The surface of high-quality synthetic ice is specifically designed to emulate the gliding sensation of natural ice, with many doing so accurately.
On a large surface, you can constantly practice jumps, turns, spins, and footwork drills that will improve performance.
Once executed well, there should be no difference in performance.
Make sure to have coaches, either in-person or virtually, to oversee all training to improve performance and reduce injury chances.
And the Cost?
Competitive figure skaters understand the need to invest time and money into the sport.
For instance, some of the best skates and blades on the market can cost thousands of dollars.
There’s a concern that synthetic ice can be expensive, with some rinks costing several thousand dollars.
Yes, a high-quality synthetic ice pro glide panel can cost several hundred dollars.
Yet, that single investment can equal several hundred hours of training in the comfort of your home or training facility.
You can use it to perform both on-ice and off-ice drills.
Over time, you can add more panels to create a larger rink.
The question is not about cost but value, as the return on investment can be extra hours on the rink to help you beat out the competition, more opportunities, social media content, and convenient practice time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Synthetic Ice a Good Substitute For Real Ice In Figure Skating Training?
Synthetic ice can be a beneficial supplement for real ice.
While it offers greater accessibility and convenience, it has a slightly different feel and resistance compared to real ice.
Skaters can use it for practicing certain skills and techniques, but it's important to also train on real ice while preparing for competitions.
How Does Training On Synthetic Ice Differ From Real Ice?
Training on synthetic ice involves more resistance, which can be good for building strength.
However, it's important to get used to practicing all movements with this resitance as it can effect your glide and speed somewhat if training in a small space.
It's excellent for practicing jumps and spins and getting in some extra edge work between natural ice training sessions.
Can Beginners Use Synthetic Ice For Learning Figure Skating?
Yes, beginners can start on synthetic ice, especially for basic skills.
It's a good platform for learning without the need for an ice rink, but transitioning to real ice as skills improve is advisable to experience actual skating conditions.
What Are The Cost Implications Of Using Synthetic Ice?
Synthetic ice offers a cost-effective solution for long-term training, especially in areas without easy access to ice rinks.
The initial setup cost is higher, but it reduces ongoing expenses like rink fees and travel costs.
Let Synthetic Ice Be Your Game Changer
Competitive figure skating training can mean long hours of intensive work on and off the ice.
Yet, some skaters do not have the time and access necessary to improve their skills, with many only training on the weekends.
To reach the level of the elite requires at least 10-20 hours per week of training, which can be challenging for many aspiring skaters.
With synthetic ice, you can create your own space to practice.
Even a starter rink is enough for you to practice specific jumps and spins, build your confidence, and fine tune your routines.
Synthetic ice has evolved into the ideal "ice simulator" to emulate natural ice, with minimal friction.
PolyGlide Synthetic Ice's panels, for example, fuse durable materials, the latest technology, and innovative practices to provide a synthetic ice product that's perfect for beginners and advanced skaters alike.
Investing in synthetic ice can be the difference in your figure skating performance.
Contact us today to get the best synthetic ice for your training needs.