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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ice Blue

This is the new Polar Rink at the American Museum of Natural History. I was invited to attend a press preview before the official opening Saturday, November 22nd. The rink is beautifully situated on the Arthur Ross Terrace, with magnificent views of the Rose Center for Earth and Space glowing in blue and the surrounding Theodore Roosevelt Park. Skaters glide around a 17-foot-tall polar bear made of openwork stainless steel festooned with pine boughs and twinkling lights. And of course, access to the Rose Center (with the new Hayden Planetarium) and the Museum itself is just a stroll away. It is nice to see the museum make efforts and investments in modernizing to keep up with changing times and patrons who have become more used to an increasingly technological world.
One thing that fascinated me was that the rink was using synthetic ice. Apparently, synthetic ice has been around since the 1960s (most using polyoxymethylene i.e. Delrin), but widespread adoption has been held back by inherent limitations of the polymers - to glide on the surface as one can on real ice, there must be a regular application of a silicone compound. This compound builds up on the surface, collects dirt and has been a source of much dissatisfaction among skaters. Also, joinery of the panels was an issue - earlier synthetic ice products used simple butt joints which could be felt by the skater. These shortcomings have been addressed by Perry Boskus, developer/inventor of the Super-Glide surface which is being used at the Polar Rink and manufactured by Florida Skating, Inc. The product is made in house with their own technology. Lubricating ingredients have been injected into the core material to provide a surface which provides glide properties regardless of wear. A new joinery system (a variation of a dovetail joint) was also developed to hold the panels together to make the seams nearly undetectable.
I had the privilege of meeting Perry at the ceremony. He was quite enthusiastic about the new installation and worldwide interest in his product. There are hundreds of commercial and residential installations around the world.
I subsequently learned through my reading that Perry was North Atlantic Figure Skating Champion, Eastern Seaboard Speed skating Champion, a hockey player and Professional Figure Skating Coach.
I love blue and the aura of the evening was decidedly blue. I was pleased to read the Super-Glide brochure this morning and find out that the latest incarnation of the product is called Ice Blue ...

Note: Hours and additional information about the rink can be found here. Skate rentals are available and included with the admission.


Wayne said...

Is it as hard as ice if you fall on your butt? At least you don't get wet.

Mary said...

Brian--How about an ice skating outing for us Washington Square types?

naomid said...

Can't wait to return to the ice age. What a great museum, and interesting post.

aviana Dalal said...

whoaa!!! im so excited!
i usually go to Bryant, but i'm definitely at least checking this out.


Sherry said...

Did you get a chance to actually skate on the surface? I went with some friends on Sunday, and it was a major disappointment. I'm no ice-skating champion, but I'm always able to skate around freely on real ice. But on the polymer surface, it was supremely tricky to move around. I felt as if I couldn't catch an edge and push off in order to "glide" across the surface. To be honest, it sucked and we all left after 2 or 3 go's around the rink.

Barbara said...

I had a wonderful time skating around the bear. I was able to spin like on real ice. Only found that I had to push a little harder, which is really good exercise for becoming a better skater.
Sorry girls, you do not know how to skate. Take some lessons!