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Synthetic Ice for Figure Skating: A Comprehensive Comparison to Real Ice

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Competitive figure skating requires only the best equipment and practice space to ensure that skaters are at the top of their game. One question that often arises is whether synthetic ice tiles or natural ice offer a better skating surface for figure skaters. 

This article will compare the feel, performance, and maintenance of synthetic ice for figure skating to natural ice. It will also examine the advantages and disadvantages of artificial ice for figure skating.

Comparison of Synthetic and Real Ice

When it comes to the feel of skating on synthetic ice versus real ice, differences exist. But the advantages of using synthetic ice far outweigh those of natural ice. 

Feel of Skating on Synthetic vs. Real Ice

Tilted natural version, ice skates with reflection

Commonly, the synthetic ice surface for figure skating is slightly rougher and could require a little more effort. But the advent of new innovations provides almost the same smooth, gliding sensation as real ice. So much so, that KwikRink’s Synthetic Ice has only a 10% glide difference from that of real ice.

That 10% difference in glide between synthetic ice and natural ice presents a unique opportunity for skaters to improve their technique. The added friction provides a slight challenge that helps to isolate movements and build strength. This extra effort leads to greater control and more polished performance. By embracing the slightly different conditions of synthetic ice, skaters have the chance to take their skills to the next level.


You may notice some slight differences between synthetic and real ice when figure skating. Due to the slightly rougher surface of synthetic ice, you may have to adjust your technique and use a little more force to execute certain moves. This can be challenging for jumps and spins requiring precise edge control and power. 

However, the firmer surface of synthetic ice for skating may make it easier to feel the blade and control the balance, especially when practicing specific footwork patterns or turns. And, as mentioned earlier this can provide skaters with better technique training. 

Durability and maintenance

Regarding durability and maintenance, synthetic ice has a clear advantage over real ice. Synthetic ice tiles are high-density plastic material resistant to cracking, chipping, and melting, making them a long-lasting investment. They can be used year-round, regardless of weather conditions, and do not require refrigeration or water.

In contrast, real ice is prone to melting and requires constant refrigeration and resurfacing to maintain a smooth surface. This can be expensive and time-consuming for businesses or sponsors to manage.

Advantages of Synthetic Ice Tiles

Synthetic ice for figure skating tiles offers several advantages for figure skaters and businesses or sponsors, including the following:

Cost Savings Compared to Real Ice

Synthetic Ice for Figure Skating as cost saving compared to real ice

The benefit is significant for businesses or sponsors. Synthetic ice tiles are a one-time investment that you can use for years, unlike the ongoing costs of maintaining natural ice. This can be significant cost savings if you wish to create a practice space for figure skaters.

Ability to Use Year-Round

You can use synthetic ice panels year-round, regardless of weather conditions. This is a major advantage for businesses or sponsors in locations with harsh winters or limited access to real ice rinks.

Installation and Storage Convenience

Synthetic ice tiles are easy to install and can be stored when not in use. This is a convenient option for businesses or sponsors with limited space or the need to set up and break down a practice space regularly.

Environmentally Friendly Compared to Real Ice

You don’t need a refrigeration system or water to maintain synthetic ice, making it an environmentally friendly option compared to real ice. This can be a factor for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Disadvantages of Synthetic Ice for Figure Skating

There are a few disadvantages to consider when it comes to synthetic ice for figure skating. These include:

High Initial Cost of Purchasing and Installation

Building a synthetic ice skating rink can be costly upfront, especially for a large rink. It’s crucial to plan a budget that works for you. However, the cost of maintenance is low and the limitless fun it offers makes the investment worth it in the long run. 

Potential for Reduced Performance Compared to Natural Ice

Despite the potential for reduced skating performance on synthetic ice compared to natural ice, advances in synthetic ice technology have improved its friction and glide properties, resulting in a much more authentic skating experience than in the recent past. 

Possible Negative Impact on the Blade Wear and Sharpening

The rougher surface of the synthetic ice can cause blades to be dull more quickly, requiring more sharpening. While it may require more time and effort to keep blades in top condition, it’s a small price to pay for year-round access to a reliable skating surface.

Key Takeaways

  • Real ice offers competitive skaters the most authentic skating experience but may be more costly and less convenient for businesses and sponsors to maintain.
  • The decision to use synthetic or real ice should be based on individual needs and preferences, as well as budget and availability of options. 
  • Synthetic ice for figure skating can be a cost-effective and convenient choice, but it is important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding. 

Ultimately, the best skating experience will depend on the individual needs and goals of the skater, as well as the resources and support of businesses and sponsors.

Let’s Help You Construct Your Synthetic Skating Ice Rink

Take advantage of the opportunity to provide your figure skaters with a top-quality practice space that is quick and easy to install in any indoor or outdoor location. Our synthetic ice for figure skating rinks is a cost-effective and convenient solution. It offers year-round use, affordable maintenance costs, and a safe and stable skating surface. 

Contact us today to get a quote and learn more about how a synthetic ice rink can benefit your business or organization. Be sure to give your skaters the best possible skating experience.

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