In Britain the success of John Curry at the world and Olympic ice skating championships has prompted much interest in ice skating, with queues forming at almost every ice rink in the country.
In Britain the success of John Curry at the world and Olympic ice skating championships has prompted much interest in ice skating, with queues forming at almost every ice rink in the country. Local authorities and private enterprise have been investigating the possibility of building more ice rinks, but they are expensive.
SYNOPSIS: At the Kirkby Sports Centre near Liverpool, however, there is a skating rink that could solve some of the problems of the high cost of building normal ice rinks. The skates this girl is putting on are not the normal hollow-ground steel ice skates used on ice. Instead they're equipped with five wheels... wheels which are as narrow as a normal blade.
These skates are designed to be used on an artificial rink made of special plastic tiles. Apart from the Kirkby rink, there are also others at Newquay and Jersey. The first of these artificial rinks was built in Geneva, in Switzerland, and professional skaters say they are nearest thing to real ice discovered so far.
The new rinks are covered in hollow white plastic titles, which when filled with a special mastic, are as noiseless as ice. The rinks have the added advantage of being much cheaper to build than normal ice rinks, and they are also very cheap to maintain.
The only maintenance the rink needs is a sweep every morning, and if a tile wears thin, it can be replaced in the same way as a kitchen tile.
Professional skaters have said that the artificial rinks will not replace ice, but offer the closest conditions to the normal rinks. They say the rinks are very good for teaching the thousands of novices who have been attracted to skating by the success of John Curry. But for novice skaters, the plastic surface is just as easy to fall on as the real thing.
The surface is not regarded as suitable for the country's top skaters even though skaters can perform almost everything on the tiles that they can do on ice. Some of the jumps still cannot be performed on the plastic ice.
It's also more difficult to stand still, because the normal blade on the skates has been replaced by little wheels.