No ice, no problem --eco-friendly and cost-friendly iceless rinks may soon be an alternative to conventional ice-skating rinks in Japan. Although more work needs to be done to make skating on the artificial surface more ice-like, iceless rinks could potentially save owners thousands in air conditioning and water bills.
Soon, this eco and cost-friendly iceless rink may become an alternative to ever-shrinking skating rinks in Japan.
It was originally manufactured by Spanish company XtraIce, and now manufactured by Mitsubishi Plastics in Japan. The large resin-based panels allow figure eights and hockey hat tricks without an ice-laying Zamboni.
After trying skating routines on the plastic rink, here's what one amateur ice-skater had to say.
[Risa Mochizuki, Ice Skater]:
"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."
The popularity of skating has soared in Japan with the success of professional skaters like Mao Asada and other stars. But at the same time, numerous rinks across the country are closing down due to financial difficulties.
[Hideo Iwano, GM, Mitsubishi Plastics]:
"With the rise of Japanese top skaters in world competition, more young Japanese are trying to find a spot for ice skating lessons. But there aren't enough rinks and lessons, so kids tend to leave for another sport while waiting. We hope to provide more skating opportunities for those young skaters, raising the overall number of skaters in Japan."
Mitsubishi Plastics says the technology can save rinks up to $190,000 U.S. dollars a year in air conditioning and water bills.
The panel will hit the Japanese market in June... however inquiries from local skating rinks, organizations, and teams have already surged.
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