Of course, we have all heard of ice skating, and maybe some of us have even tried it. But, what about black ice skating?
Black ice, or congelation ice, is the kind of ice that forms on the surface of lakes. It is transparent and therefore can reveal the color of the water underneath it, that is usually black- and that’s where the name “black ice” comes from.
This kind of ice if very hard, strong and smooth, and that’s why skaters prefer it, among other reasons. One of the other most important reasons is that the sounds it makes are out of this world.
Scientists and lovers of ice skating are interested in black ice skating. One of them is Mårten Ajne, a Swedish mathematician who spends much of his time studying the black ice phenomenon and skating on it.
According to National Geographic, this kind of ice can be as thin as two inches and it takes careful preparation and serious advanced planning before anyone tries to skate on it. It is also recommended that whoever does is not alone, because they always run the risk of breaking the ice and falling in the frozen lake.
This kind of sport is called “wild ice skating” or “Nordic ice skating”, probably because most frozen lakes that provide the conditions for black ice skating are in the Nordic countries, but also in the Netherlands and in Alaska.
In the video that follows, you can watch Ajne skate on the frozen lake and hear the amazing sounds it makes. Of course, he is an experienced skater and he knows where to go in order for the surface of the lake to not break, but also in order to achieve the laser-like sounds he wants.
At some point, he can be seen poking holes on the ice and measuring the thickness of the ice.
“How much?” asks his companion. “Forty-five millimeters,” he replies. His off-camera companion comments on that “Well, that’s thick!” to get the answer “Same as before. Still, more than enough.”
Forty-five millimeters, about two inches, might sound super thin, but it’s enough to support the skater’s weight and allow him to smoothly slide on it. Thanks to National Geographic, we learn that, just “like a dome or an arch, the support comes from the sides” and what prevents the ice from breaking is the water underneath it.
But, what kind of planning does it take in order to go black ice skating?
Well, one needs to take into account the temperature, the atmospheric conditions, and- guess what!- even satellite images of the earth’s surface. All this is by no means easy to do and it proves that black ice skating is not just a sport, but an art and a science at the same time.
But the reward is the sound you make when skating on these lakes.
A sound that can compare to no other. It’s as if you’re not on earth anymore, a sound that maybe you can find in sci-fi movies. And that’s when you realize that is was worth all the planning and the effort.
Press play on the video below and have the chance to hear the other worldly sounds that only black ice skating can make.
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