Sochi's 'Iceberg' Skating Palace ready for action

Navka tests surface of figure skating venue for 2014 Olympics

Sochi 2014 ambassador and Olympic champ Tatiana Navka tested the first ice at "Iceberg" Arena.
Sochi 2014 ambassador and Olympic champ Tatiana Navka tested the first ice at "Iceberg" Arena. (Sochi 2014)


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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to
(05/14/2012) - The first ice resurfacing at the 'Iceberg' Skating Palace in Sochi Olympic Park took place Saturday, May 12. The honor to be the first to try the Olympic ice were the students of the Sochi School of Winter Sports and Olympic Ambassador Tatiana Navka, Russia's 2006 Olympic ice dancing gold medalist with Roman Kostomarov.

The first competitive test event for this ice arena will be the 2012 Grand Prix Final. In February 2014, the arena will host the Olympic figure skating and short track speedskating competitions.

"It was so special feeling to be the first person who takes the Olympic ice," Navka told the press. "I hope that Team Russia will take gold medals in this arena."

"My main goal is to make every effort to ensure that the revival of sports in Russia, which will [host the] Sochi Olympics, has helped many children, especially children from low-income families, to take an active part in sports," the Olympic ambassador added.

Three years ago, Navka participated in a commemorative ceremony, which consisted of laying the foundation on the site of the ice arena building area.

The renowned figure skater regretted that she would not be able to participate in the Sochi Olympics, as her competitive career is over. However, the ice dancer showed her coaching ability and managing potential very well with large group of children from the Sochi School of Winter Sports, which, with extraordinary speed and joy, tested the first Olympic ice.

The construction of the ice palace began in September 2009. Since then, as many as 1,000 workers have used 15,000 tons of metal, 600 tons of glass and 500 tons of bolts have been used to erect the 12,000-seat structure.

The preparation for the first ice resurfacing took several days. The first step was testing the controls of the refrigeration equipment. Once that was done, the ice was frozen in thin layers, a process that took many hours.

The first layer of ice, which is 1.5-2 centimeters thick, was frozen and then painted white. After that, another three centimeters of ice were frozen, bringing the total thickness of the ice surface to 4-5 centimeters.

To monitor the ice conditions, engineers installed special sensors, which can detect any changes in temperature in different areas of the rink. In total, the installation and testing of the Olympic ice took about 100 days.

Much of the time spent on the installation process went toward freezing the ice slab, a "layered cake" of ice of various materials, including pipes and high-strength, frost-resistant concrete. This slab can withstand 200 cycles of freezing/thawing. Given the fact that the sheet defrosts once a year, the concrete can be used for at least 200 years.

Information from Sochi 2014 was used in this report.