Ice Sports Reinvented In Our Warming World


Christopher Owen

Global climate change is creating many challenges. Temperatures are rising, droughts and wildfires are becoming more frequent, glaciers are melting, and sea levels are rising. In response, government agencies and public and private businesses worldwide are brainstorming on ways to mitigate climate risks and adapt their operating plans to the changes that a warming planet is bringing. 

Glice, a company founded eight years ago and based in Lucerne Switzerland, has developed a product that makes ice skating and hockey year-round activities. They have invented a synthetic, plastic, polymer sheet used in ice skating rinks that provides the feel of real ice without the hard impact when skaters fall. Currently, there are 1,800 Glice rinks worldwide located in retail centers, hotels, private homes, public parks, and zoos. These rinks are low maintenance and do not require cold temperatures, special skates, winter gear or constant and costly repairs. Also, the portable panels of the rinks can be easily installed, removed, stacked and stored as needed.  

In terms of the environment, Glice’s panels are more friendly as they use less natural resources and produce less carbon dioxide than methods that produce traditional ice. The panels do not require large amounts of water and electricity, noisy equipment with refrigeration systems and compressors, or the famous Zamboni, which lays down a new layer of water to freeze on the surface of existing ice. The durable panels are also cost-effective as they can be used for 12 years and then flipped over and used for another 12 years. The rinks start at $1,200 for a small one for personal use to $150,000 for a 4,000 square foot rink typically used in a shopping mall.  Another large appeal of the product is that since the sheets are not made of real ice, they can withstand the rising temperatures of a warming planet. They also can be used to bring the sports of ice skating and hockey to warmer places in the world like Mexico, Morocco, and Iraq. 

Glice (a blend of the words “glide” and “ice”) is one example of an innovative company that is trying to adapt its business model to a warming planet. With Glice, there are no more limitations as to when or where one can experience the happiness of ice skating or hockey with friends, family or colleagues.