Hey sports fans!! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am a self admitted “rink rat” so a lot of this blog will be about figure skating and hockey, however as an ex-figure skater, ex-varsity athlete and a sports fan in general, I usually have thoughts and opinions about alot of different sports I follow, so visit often!
It seems that for every World Championship event or season leading up to an Olympic year in either figure skating or ice hockey, the discussions about ice surface sizes starts up again. In both hockey fandoms and figure skating fandoms there are supporters and detractors of both. With Worlds in Boston coming up in 2 months, and with a new NHL arena proposed for my city, the discussion is once again picking up steam every time I turn around.
First off, the 2 standard sizes are:
As a Canadian, I am used to standard NHL size, and have always trained and competed on this size of ice. Any time I see an Olympic size ice sheet from the end view, I am amazed at how wide it is!! 15 extra feet is a lot of space! 15 extra feet in width equates to an extra 3,000 square feet of room!
To illustrate this, here are a couple of images:
There are a lot of arguements for and against a larger Olympic size ice surface for skating and hockey, but nothing drives me more insane than people saying the smaller ice surface is “unfair”. There is nothing unfair about different ice sizes in my opinion. At any event, all of the skaters will compete on the same size ice surface, and all of them will have to make any necessary adjustments to the arena they will compete in. Top level athletes do this. Sure, they are used to the size of their home practice rink, and a smaller rink may not be optimal for some skaters, but the true mark of elite athletes and champions are that they can excel given any circumstances and any environment.
I can see the merits of making the ice surfaces bigger for hockey. You have 16 grown men on the ice at the same time (12 players, 4 officials), chasing a puck in tight quarters. The average height in the NHL is 6’1″. The North American style hockey game is different than the International hockey game. On a larger ice surface, the extra space gives the more skilled players the advantage of more room to control the play, to create chances to score with their quickness and agility. A larger ice surface also highlights players that have less speed. But, at the end of the day, the Olympics and World Championship hockey events have been held on both sizes of ice surfaces and most of the players have played on both sizes.
After reading this article, I like the idea of a compromise solution whereby the width of any new rinks could be expandable to 90′ wide. An extra five feet in width would do wonders for both hockey and figure skating in North America.
The same holds true of figure skating. International competitions have been held on both ice sizes. The larger ice surface really highlights those skaters with superior skating skills.
For skaters like Yuzu and Patrick (Chan), I see the benefit of a larger ice surface. Since it only takes 2-3 strokes for Yuzu and Patrick to hit full stride, a larger surface allows them to generate the speed they want to enter into their jumps, and when landed perfectly, carry out of their jumps. The same goes for their footwork. When you are used to carrying a lot of speed through your step sequences and suddenly someone takes away 15 feet of width, the boards come up to you very quickly!! If you constantly train on a larger ice surface, you time your steps to the beats and choreography of your music. You rely on a certain amount of space to complete the steps to that timing that your body is used to. However, both Yuzu and Patrick are seasoned veterans and can make the adjustments they need.
SPECIAL NOTE: the ice size at Toronto Cricket and Skating Club is 87′ x 190′ according to their site so Yuzu is used to skating in a smaller rink.
We cannot expect that every ISU competition will be held on an Olympic size ice surface and there are reasons why the ISU does not make size of ice surface a mandatory pre-requisite of a citys’ proposal to host an event.
Do I think that Worlds in Boston with a smaller ice surface is a problem? Definitely not. The elite skaters that will be there competing will have practice on the smaller ice surface prior to the event and will be able to adjust as they need to. While we have seen skaters run into the boards due to smaller size, I have never heard a top level skater complain about it. I’m sure Seimei will look just as gorgeous on 85 x 200 as it does on 100 x 200!!
Go Yuzu Go!! Doki Doki!!