A couple of weeks ago, the local figure skating group organized a skating recital at the Ice in Paradise indoor arena, showcasing some of the best figure skaters in the Southern California area.

“There were some great skaters out there,” says Larry Bruyere, Ice in Paradise’s General Manager. There were some younger skaters but there were adult skaters too, and they were getting great height, doing double axels, triple axels and so on. I was wondering how well the ice would hold up. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Our ice repaired just fine – and even faster than if we’d been using hot water.

Making Ice in Paradise

Ice in Paradise is an 8-month-old twin pad ice rink facility in Goleta, CA – just outside of Santa Barbara. The facility is used by hockey teams, figure skaters, learn-to-skaters – the normal mix for an indoor arena. In that short amount of time, the facility has gained a reputation for having great ice even though their artificial ice is made without the use of hot water. That’s something Bruyere admits that he might not ever have believed if he hadn’t seen it for himself, first hand.

The Leopard Changing His Spots

Bruyere has worn many different hats in and around Southern California arenas over the past 30 years. He’s been a hockey retailer, arena manager, as well as a Coach-in-Chief for USA Hockey, a position the New York native still holds.  In 2015, he was named USA Hockey Pacific District Coach of the Year.

“When it comes to making ice, I didn’t think there was any other way to make it except by using hot water. In fact, I was probably the biggest skeptic of all when it was suggested that not only could we reduce our energy bill, but we could make great ice by using the REALice system.”

REALice is a 3-D printed valve that removes the micro air bubbles from water – letting ice makers and resurfacers make ice without hot water, chemicals or without any additional maintenance expenses.

“Seeing was believing,” Bruyere says. “With Ice in Paradise, we had the perfect opportunity, a petrie dish, if you will, for testing the (REALice) system out. We used it from the very beginning to make our ice and then we used it to maintain the ice too. Always, in the back of my mind, I was thinking that sooner or later, we’d need to start using hot water, but we never have. Our Zamboni has never had any hot water in it. That’s an incredible energy savings.”

“I’ve changed my spots because the proof is on the ice,” Bruyere says, laughing. “Seriously, REALice just bonds better, it makes better ice. Any rink operator who takes the opportunity to try it will see. And they can change their ways — just like I did!”

Bruyere says the rink has implemented other energy saving systems, such as LED lighting which can be set at different levels depending which type of user group is using the ice, and he’s been working with engineers to find the optimal temperature to run their ice plant.


 

Cypress Ltd.’s managing director, Tom Smolarek, the distributor of REALice in the USA, tells me that many utility companies are offering incentives because of the energy savings the REALice system can provide. In southern California, for example, the customers of SoCalGas  can earn an incentive of $1.00 per Therm  — which can be up to 50% of the cost of the project cost of a REALice installation. The financial incentive offered is for both retrofits and new builds. More information on these incentives can be found at realice.us or at the SoCalGas site (Project: Clear Ice) .