Fueled by sweating it out

Game-changing synthetic surfaces changing the way we play sports.

Game-changing synthetic surfaces changing the way we play sports.

Rubberized running tracks, polymer-molded climbing walls, and artificially-turfed fields are proving to be just as durable as they are conventional. But as technology continues to advance, there’s ample opportunity to question, experiment, and further develop the intrinsic bond between the sports we play and the way petroleum-based products are changing the way we play them.

Let’s look at four surprising and innovative sports surfaces, all created using innovative, petroleum products.

Ice Rinks. Imagine ice skating anywhere in the world — outdoors — regardless of the temperature. From Dallas to Dubai, it’s now a reality for figure skaters, hockey players, curlers and casual participants alike, all thanks to some rather smart Swiss engineers who’ve invented synthetic ice. Artificial ice may also be less abrasive for skate blades. So, (in theory) they last longer and produce less shavings on the rink. Synthetic ice is showing up in professional and consumer-grade markets and doesn’t require water or electricity to use or maintain.

Ski Slopes. Sure, traditional skiing and snowboarding exists all over the United States, 365 days-a-year. The latest advancements in silicone inspired an Italian company to invent a revolutionary dry mat that mimics the experience of snow skiing, producing speed and providing safety. So you no longer have to trek up the mountains of Washington, Colorado or Alaska to shred.

Basketball & Tennis Courts. The new alternative to traditional hardwood, highly-stylized synthetic indoor basketball courts trying to carve out a place in the world as a notably durable, uniquely versatile alternative. There are urethane courts that come in any combination of color schemes, with the ability to custom print team logos. But if you want to keep the look and feel of a traditional court, check out the vinyl woodgrain option. Most integrate a high-density top coat that simulates wood with greater energy return. Or, to put it simply, the ball bounces just like it should.

Bowling Alleys. It looks like maple. The sound of the ball hitting the lane sounds like maple.

Everything about the way the ball glides down the lane just feels like it’s maple. But that lane — I hate to break it to ya, friend — it’s not maple. It isn’t even wood. Bowling alleys across the country are opting for a new, synthetic alternative that requires less maintenance and promises to always look like it just got a fresh coat of varnish. For a little extra added price — and swagger — owners can opt for illuminated and glow-in-the-dark lanes. Plus, there won’t be any divots in the wood from novices who chuck there ball down the lane all willy-nilly.