Eco-friendly, iceless skating opens in downtown Umatilla

UMATILLA, Ore. – You won’t find Zambonis, or gallons of water to create ice at this rink in Umatilla.

“It’s not water, no,” David Stockdale, the City Manager said.

The rink, is iceless, built up of high tech boards created by the company Glice.

“You can hockey stop on it, figure skaters can pretty much do any kind of standard jump,” CEO Mark Winter said just don’t dig your toe pick in for any toe loops.

“Its actually pretty fun,” Aubren Little, a skater from Hermiston said.

Umatilla City Manager David Stockdale said residents have been asking about a skating rink for years. He said it was one of the top five requests on a city development survey.

“We couldn’t quite bring a real, traditional ice skating rink; very costly, very expensive, but this was a really great alternative solution for that,” he explained.

“What this does is opens up a world of opportunities for towns and municipalities to bring rinks to their community that they’d never be able to do otherwise,” Winter added.

It looks and glides like regular ice.

Glice was founded by hockey player and engineer Toni Vera.

CEO Mark Winter said their product is unlike other synthetic ices on the market.

“We basically put the polymers, what are called the resins inside a mold and under high pressure and temperature compress them, and that creates a much more consistent skating surface,” he said.

The boards lock together to create a rink the size of the owner’s choosing.

Winter said it’s an environmentally friendly option that doesn’t eat up electricity and gallons of water.

“To have a great skating experience without all the water, without all the compressors, without the equipment, without all the environmental problems that come with refrigerants. It can go into just about any environment worldwide,” Winter said.

You may be thinking, won’t the polymers get scratched? Winter said they release a lubricant to keep skating smooth, much like a Zamboni would score and refreeze water on a traditional ice rink.

“When you start to skate on it, it scores and that actually releases more of the lubricant that is embedded in the surface but the scoring only goes so far,” Winter explained.

First time skater Isella Sandoval said it’s just nice to have something like the rink to feel the holiday spirit in their community.

“Well my mom wanted us to have fun for Christmas this year and wanted to have family fun,” she said.

Winter said they also have a zero carbon footprint as a company. For every board purchased, Glice plants a tree in a deforested area of the world; the life of that tree offsets the companies footprint.

Winter said you can use real ice or hockey skates on Glice and there’s minimal maintenance to keep the boards in pristine shape. He said ideally, each side of the boards can be used for 12 years, if taken care of.

The rink in Umatilla will remain open until President’s Day in February 21, 2022. The rink can be reserved for private reservations on weekdays, and is open to public skate on the weekends.

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