But the disconnect from nature inherent to the creation of such artificial pleasure biomes can also unsettle. We can ski indoors in a mall in New Jersey, surf in an artificial wave pool in Lemoore, Calif., and ice skate in shorts in Mexico City. Should every place, even in the Caribbean, offer winter sports?
“It struck me as sad,” said Sydney Mineer, 27, who works in casting and lives in Los Angeles, of happening upon a synthetic ice rink (made by PolyGlide, a Glice competitor) at the Westfield Century City mall while shopping for Christmas presents. “I was bewildered because it was so out of context.”
Synthetic rinks, though, have been part of the infrastructure of ice hockey for at least 40 years, said a spokesman for USA Hockey, the governing body for the sport. Companies like Xtraice, which put a rink in the John Hancock Center in Chicago in 2010, and PolyGlide, which appeared on the reality show “Shark Tank” in 2016, have been trying make the product more consumer-friendly ever since.
A decade ago, Toni Vera, a professional ice hockey player in Spain and engineer, was unhappy with the state of synthetic ice. He spent eight years testing different ingredients until he found a surface that met his expectations.
Mr. Meier, who is from Lucerne but got an M.B.A. at the University of Dallas, learned about Mr. Vera from a BBC show about inventors and persuaded Mr. Vera to go into business. They formed Glice, a portmanteau of “ice” and “glide.” Their first client, in 2012, was BASE Hockey, a Canadian company that operates small hockey training centers.
Mr. Meier is as secretive as Willy Wonka when it comes to the Glice formula. “But I will tell you, the ingredients, we ship them to Germany where they get pressed by a special process of high pressure and high heat,” he said. “Then the panels get cut with numeric, computerized machines to create a tongue-and-groove connection, allowing them to come together seamlessly.” The biggest cleaning challenge is getting into those grooves, with a pressure washer.
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