Synthetic ice falls flat with skaters

THE SKATING rink with synthetic ice, which the Old Town municipality built in Hviezdo-slavovo square this winter, has been a disappointment for many Bratislava citizens. They complain the artificial ice is slow and rough. The Old Town defends itself saying that the rink is more economical to run.

Crowded in the past, empty today.
photo: Jana Liptáková

THE SKATING rink with synthetic ice, which the Old Town municipality built in Hviezdo-slavovo square this winter, has been a disappointment for many Bratislava citizens. They complain the artificial ice is slow and rough. The Old Town defends itself saying that the rink is more economical to run.

Many Bratislava citizens have become used to skating at the square each winter. "I liked to come here with my son," Matúš Stríž, who lives nearby, told The Slovak Spectator. "But now, it's a torment. It looks like we have to find another place for skating."

Its early afternoon on a sunny Sunday January 8 and not more than 20 people are skating there. The beginners find the "slow" synthetic ice quite comfortable, but the "wild" children fooling around the rink soon give up.

In the years of natural ice the rink would have been completely full.

The Old Town's spokesperson Peter Kimijan admitted to the Pravda daily that the municipality has received many complaints about the synthetic ice. "Mostly people say the ice slows them down," he says, adding that this kind of ice requires different style of sharpening the skates. "We offer the service right next to the rink. But only a few people use it."

The daily also asked the legendary ice-hockey player Jozef Golonka for his opinion. "The fact is that a completely different skating technique is necessary for this ice. Also skates must be sharpened in a different style," Golonka said.

The Old Town does not plan to return to the natural ice. The freezer is obsolete and unable to keep the ice in a usable condition during rain and temperatures above zero. Bratislava's winters are often 5 degrees Celcius or higher.

Artificial ice does not change with the weather and can be used throughout the year. Moreover, it is cheaper to operate.

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