Is Like-Ice the answer for cheap skates?

Ron Dicker

Interested in ice-skating for half the price? Then Like-Ice might be nice.

The synthetic ice from Germany made its U.S. debut this week at New York City's Stadia Design & Technology Expo for stadium operators and suppliers. It got my attention because my wife and daughter skated on plastic ice at a Los Angeles hotel last Christmas, declaring it slow and inauthentic.

But that was a competitor whose technology is entirely different, Joseph J. Murphy, the president of Smart Turf Solutions, told WalletPop. The competitor's gliding capacity depended on the blade heating the surface to lessen the friction so the skate could advance. It is noticeably slower than real ice. Like-Ice, a mixture of polyethylene "and different additives and nanotechnologies," declares the brochure, is naturally slick and just a smidge slower than the frozen stuff, he said.

It's also naturally cheaper for operators and consumers. Operators can charge less because "they're not passing on the cost of refrigeration and Zambonis," Murphy said. How much less? "Better than 50%," he answered as a figure skater twirled around a jigsaw-puzzle patch of Like-Ice in the middle of Javits Convention Center.