2002: Fastest ice on Earth

Utah Olympic ParkThe following is an excerpt from a Deseret News article published on December 6, 2001:

On bad days, the ice at Utah Olympic Park might be the world’s fastest. On good days, it’s greased lightning.

Since its opening in January 1999, records on the bobsled track at Utah Olympic Park have fallen with regularity. Every year, luge, skeleton and bobsled athletes clock faster times on the track, tucked away in a mountain nook outside Park City called Bear Hollow.

Some pin the increasingly quick times on better equipment or stronger athletes, but Tracy Seitz, a native of Calgary, Canada, has his own theory.

It’s the ice.

Seitz and Hans Sparber are Utah Olympic Park’s two ice meisters, charged with crafting perfect sliding ice for Salt Lake’s 2002 Winter Games.

The more they work, the faster the ice can be — under the right climatic circumstances, of course.

“Really, in talking to athletes and officials, as far as smoothness and cleanness, it’s pretty much unprecedented,” Seitz said of his ice.

Smooth and clean — like a china plate freshly washed — combined with cold, clear temperatures are keys to fast ice.

It’s a source of pride for the meisters every time a track record is bested at Bear Hollow.

After all, without their efforts to smooth and sculpt the surface, fast times would be in short supply.

The two can spot tiny bumps in the ice invisible to the untrained eye. With homemade tools, they scrape, dig and mold the ice.

When light snow falls, they sweep with brooms, and when heavier precipitation falls, they scrape away the excess.

Click here to read the entire article.

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