Smooth idea for skating, without hassle of rink

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—Skating-business owner Charles Crawford is starting small but envisions a facility big enough for hockey games as skaters glide on polymer flooring covered with a thin sheet of slide-enhancer lubricant.



It’s toasty and warm inside the warehouse where Charles Crawford practices arabesque glides on thin blades around his new ice rink.

There is no need for a coat or even a pair of mittens because the ice he skates on is polymer flooring, coated with a thin layer of slide enhancer, providing the perfect warm surface on which to skate.

“It has that light ice feeling,” Crawford said as his blades circled the 15-by-15-foot synthetic ice sheet inside his new business, On Edge Skating, 2944 Interstate 70 Business Loop, Suite 208.

Although the square-footage can’t compare with traditional ice rinks, the EZ Glide 350 Synthetic Ice provides nearly the same results as regular ice, but without the costly equipment or chemicals needed to keep it cold and smooth, he said.

The ice needs only regular coats of slide enhancer, a nontoxic and quick-dry lubricant, to keep it slick enough to glide on. No other maintenance is needed.

Plus, the ice is completely mobile. It can be easily assembled to accommodate indoor or outdoor events, such as the upcoming Palisade Olde-Fashioned Christmas celebration, where skaters will have a chance to try it out.

Crawford, a skate instructor and photographer, has spent the past two years researching the prospect of opening a rink of synthetic ice in Grand Junction.

“This skating surface is becoming popular back East,” he said.

Crawford said synthetic ice was popular in the 1980s, but the skate blades tore through the plastic rapidly. Now, with the advancements in lubricant, the synthetic ice is nearly equivalent to skating on natural ice, he said.

“The slide ratio is at about 90 percent,” Crawford said, “which means the body works about 10 percent harder to skate on synthetic ice.”

That’s a good thing if you’re trying to become a stronger skater. Professional hockey players often practice on synthetic ice as part of their strength training, Crawford said.

Though still in the rudimentary stages, the rink has great potential, Crawford said. He envisions a full-service facility where skaters can take lessons, play hockey games, buy and rent skates, plus have blades sharpened.

“At least by Christmas next year, we should have this room full of ice,” he said.

Crawford hopes to begin renting equipment soon at the facility. In the meantime, new skates are for sale in the pro shop, or skaters can bring their own.

Two open houses will take place this week for the public to try the new ice free of charge. Free skate times will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. today and from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Regular open skating is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Crawford is taking registrations for figure-skating lessons and enrollment is open for other skate programs. For information, call 589-7706 or visit http://www.onedgeskating.com.


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