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No ice, no problem: Rink goes green with synthetic surface

Charles Crawford runs On Edge Skating, a Grand Junction business that provides one of the few year-round synthetic skating facilities in the country.

Charles Crawford operates an ice skating rink that offers all the advantages of a hard and smooth surface, only without all the disadvantages associated with actually freezing and grooming ice.

Crawford and his wife, Elizabeth, own On Edge Skating, a Grand Junction business that provides one of the few year-round synthetic skating facilities in the country.

A former competitive skater turned teacher, Charles Crawford says the white polymer panels that fit tightly together to form the rink offer a skating experience similar to ice. “I love it.”

But Crawford considers his facility a “green rink” because it uses a small fraction of the electricity and water required to operate a refrigerated ice skating rink. “It definitely has advantages from an ecological standpoint.”

Instead of running up $5,000 monthly electrical bills, Crawford says On Edge Skating uses no more electricity than a small office. Instead of consuming tens of thousands of gallons of water a day, the facility uses less than 1,000 gallons a month.

Crawford extends his “green” approach to other aspects of the operation. Used skates are available at no rental charge. On Edge Skating also serves as a drop off point to recycle printer cartridges. Moreover, the business has teamed up with PepsiCo and Waste Management to offer a Dream Machine,

a computerized receptacle that allows people to collect and redeem points for aluminum cans and plastic bottles they recycle there.

On Edge Skating opened in November following the closure of the Glacier Ice Arena in Grand Junction. Crawford says that closure left figure skaters, hockey players and recreational skaters two hours away from the nearest year-round facilities in Vail and Aspen.

On Edge Skating offers group and private instruction as well as more than 20 hours a week of open skating sessions.

For now, the synthetic rink at On Edge Skating is comparatively small at about 15 feet long and 15 feet wide. But there’s room in the existing building that houses the facility to accommodate a rink that’s 75 feet long and 40 feet wide.

Crawford hopes to use the proceeds from a marketing partnership in which participating businesses buy banner ads to expand the rink. Ultimately he’d like to move the facility into a bigger building and offer a National Hockey League-sized rink.

For now, though, Crawford enjoys the opportunity to offer the benefits of an ice skating experience without the disadvantages of freezing and grooming ice.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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