The South Korean city of Gangneung hosts, in this month of February, some of the disciplines of the XXIII Winter Olympic Games: in particular ice sports, which are played in large indoor installations, while the skiing disciplines take place outdoors in the mountain sites.
But ice-skating has now become a hobby accessible to everyone, and not just inside the “ice palaces” or in the coldest places. This winter, in Milan and its immediate hinterland there were eleven temporary ice skating tracks; Rome is no less with 9 tracks only in the city, and others in nearby towns; and so everywhere in Italy.
The ice rink requires a flat and leveled surface at the start, on which a closed circuit piping network is arranged.
This network is connected to the main collectors, placed outside the runway, connected, in turn, to a water pump, a “buffertank”, and then to the cooling system.
The circuit is filled with a mixture of anti-freezing liquid and water, which the pump will circulate continuously while the buffertank allows to expel the air present in the circuit.
By putting the cooling system into operation, the liquid in the pipes reaches a temperature of about -10 ° C: at this point the network of cooled pipes starts to flow with water, which will immediately freeze. Repeating the operation several times creates an ice layer of the desired thickness – at least 6/8 cm for an efficient track.
Today, however, more efficient systems are also used that allow us to do without the buffertank, as explained to us by the Italian firm IndustrialFrigo Ice.
The American musical “Holiday on ice” was born in 1943 thanks to the idea of Emery Gilbert, an engineer from Toledo, Ohio, who first conceived a portable ice rink and thought of a traveling show that he could realize with the theatrical manager George Tyson.
After all, the Americans seem to be longtime lovers of ice skating: there are countless films that contain iconic images of the legendary New York ice rink in Central Park.
In Italy, a recent ice show was made at the Verona Arena with the technical contribution of Trane.
Art – Winter landscape with bird trap
In the landscapes of the 16th century Flemish painters, it is common to find scenes of popular life with human figures moving on frozen pools of water, as was the case in the low lands of northern Europe before the era of Global Warming.
One example is the famous “Winter Landscape with Bird Trap” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, painted in 1565, but the subject of numerous copies both by himself and his son Bruegel the Younger.
The painting represents the life in a village of the Duchy of Bramante (today Northern Belgium), where in a misty atmosphere there are various recreational activities on the ice of the river that runs through the village: you can see those who skate, those who play with a kind of hockey stick, who even practices an activity similar to curling.
Sports on ice
Ice palaces can have a suitable surface all year round, both for recreational skating and for real ice sports.
In Italy the permanent tracks are also numerous, although more frequently they can be found in the mountain regions. Unfortunately, the willingness of local administrations to provide the public with this type of activity sometimes clashes with the economic difficulties due to a management that has to deal with the electricity required to keep the plants running.
In the previous pages some of the Ice Palaces published by Tsport in recent years are mentioned.
These are the Olympic sports that are practiced on the tracks of the Palaces: Bandy, Curling, Ice Hockey, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Short track.
To the Olympic sports are added the Paralympic ones: sledge hockey and wheelchair Curling.
The boots to wear, equipped with an ice blade, can have different shapes and characteristics. Generally speaking, three types can be distinguished: artistic roller skates, hockey skates, and speed shoes.