What Is The Size Of A Olympic Hockey Rink? [Solved!]

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The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea attracted an incredible amount of attention from around the world. So much so that there are now hundreds of memes and funny tweets about the games.

One of the biggest talking points was the size of the ice-rinks. In fact, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) even tweeted about this, saying the Olympic ice-rinks were “too small” for some of the hockey players.

The rink size was one of the many things people were confused about, and even though it has now been cleared up, people are still interested in finding out more about the smallest and biggest ice-rinks in existence. So, let’s dive into the topic a bit deeper.

The Smallest Ice-Rink

Although it might not seem like it, the smallest ice-rink does have a fairly rich history. The IJSR (International Journal of Sports Research) published a study in 2010 looking into the smallest ice-rinks in existence. The study was carried out by a team of researchers from South Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, and the results were rather interesting.

The scientists found that the smallest ice-rinks tended to be built in places with cold winters and long dark winters. The study suggested that it’s probably not a coincidence that the smallest ice-rinks were found in areas with low temperatures.

The team also hypothesized that the low temperatures might affect the growth of ice in a way that makes it more susceptible to damage. The scientists suggested this could result in a sort of “vulnerabilities” that make the ice more susceptible to cracks and breaks. If true, this might explain the small size of the rinks found in the North Pole and the South Pole – places with very cold winters and very small ice-masses in general.

Although we may never know for sure, the findings from this study certainly hint at a possible answer to the question: “What is the smallest ice-rink?”

The Largest Ice-Rink

Before we get to the largest ice-rink, let’s take a step back to remember that size is a very relative term when it comes to ice-rinks. The largest one doesn’t necessarily mean the best, as there are numerous factors that need to be considered.

Ice-rink size isn’t just about the length and width of the ice-surface; it’s also about the seating capacity of the rink. To calculate the size of an ice-rink, simply multiply the number of seats by three and add ten percent to the total to account for waste ice. This is according to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), so we’ll have to assume that they know what they are talking about when it comes to ice-rink measurements (even though it is quite possible that the formula they use isn’t entirely accurate).

In the 2017 World Ice Hockey Championships, held in Paris, France, the seating capacity of the ice-rink was calculated to be around 45,000. So, if we assume that each seat is around 40 inches wide, then we can use the previous numbers to find out that the circumference of the ice-rink would be around 900 inches (around 23.5 feet) and its length would be around 600 inches (around 16 feet).

Based on these numbers, we can see that the ice-rink is around 16.5 feet longer and 4.5 feet wider than it is high. To put this into perspective, a regulation NHL hockey rink is between 100 and 105 feet long and 99.9 feet wide.

In order to accommodate all these people, you’re going to need a large amount of ice. Even then, there are certain capacity restrictions that you need to keep in mind. For example, the IIHF rules limit the capacity of an ice-rink to 45,000, which is a lot of people, but a bit cramped in terms of movement. Once you hit that number, you can’t add any more seats without having to replace some of the ice.

The Difference Between The Two

It’s important to keep in mind that not all large ice-rinks are created equal. There is a significant difference between a 50,000-capacity ice-rink and a 60,000-capacity one. The first one is rather small, while the second one is more of an industrial-sized facility. In fact, the only real difference between the two is the number of seats, which represents the maximum capacity of the arena.

Even then, the difference in quality is rather drastic. A 50,000-capacity ice-rink will not have the same level of sophistication, warmth or safety that a 60,000-capacity one will offer.

The Factors That Go Into Size

Although the above numbers give us a pretty good idea of what we’re dealing with, there are several other factors that need to be considered before we can say with any degree of certainty that a particular ice-rink is large or small. These factors include:

  • The thickness of the ice
  • The style of the surface (i.e. whether it is natural or artificial)
  • The materials used to build the surface
  • The location
  • The altitude
  • The climate
  • The size and shape of the building housing the rink
  • The design of the roof and other aspects of the building, such as the glass used for the exterior
  • The orientation of the building (i.e. north vs. south vs. east vs. west)

In order to fully understand the nuances of ice-rink size, we need to do some research. Luckily, the above mentioned study from IJS (International Journal of Sports Research) has gone a long way to providing us with ample information. In the study, the researchers looked into the factors that determine the size of an ice-rink, using the IIHF database. The study suggested that apart from the size of the arena and the number of seats, the other factors are fairly unimportant when it comes to determining the overall size of the rink.

In general, the larger the ice-rink, the stiffer the ice and the more susceptible it is to damage. This is why larger ice-rinks are usually found in areas with harsher winters and where large amounts of snow and ice persist for longer. It is also the reason why larger ice-rinks are built in enclosed spaces (i.e. stadiums or domes). This sort of arrangement protects the rink from extreme weather conditions, and makes it more convenient for the people who use it. Finally, the shape of the blade of the hockey stick is also important. The thinner edge of the blade acts as a wind brake, helping to mitigate the effects of strong headwinds that might otherwise make it hard for the players to skate. This is why it is generally preferable for hockey sticks to have a thicker side.

The Effect Of Rinks On Ice

Although ice-rinks don’t necessarily affect ice directly, they do play a big role in its overall growth and sustainability. The size of a rink is directly related to the circumference and volume of the ice that it contains. This is why larger ice-rinks are usually found in colder areas with more snowfall. It also explains why larger ice-rinks are generally found in regions with harsh winters.

In one of the above-mentioned studies, the scientists hypothesized that lower temperatures may affect ice in a way that makes it more susceptible to damage. The team suggested that this could result in a sort of “vulnerability” that makes the ice more susceptible to cracks and breaks. If true, this might explain the small size of the rinks found in the North Pole and the South Pole – places with very cold winters and very small ice-masses in general.

Even though this sort of “vulnerability” might be rather rare, the size of a rink is still affected by it. This is because as the size of the ice-rink gets smaller and smaller, the cracks and breaks that appear become more and more frequent and apparent. This makes it harder for the players to perform optimally on the ice, and potentially causes injuries. The smaller the rink, the quicker players will tire, making it harder for them to pull off impressive feats, such as scoring goals or avoiding injuries.

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