When it comes to winter sports, not all ice is created equal. Every discipline has its own standards for the ideal temperature and density of ice, which makes venue construction and maintenance a special challenge. Figure skating, for example, requires softer ice to cushion athletes’ landings, whereas short-track speed skating values dense, smooth ice for racing. The Gangneung Ice Arena hosts both and can transition between them in under 3 hours. Gangneung Oval hosts long-track speed skating and makes its ice layer by layer, spraying hot, purified water onto the rink. This builds up a particularly dense and therefore smooth ice.
The toughest sport in terms of ice conditions is curling, which requires a finely pebbled ice surface for the stones to slide on. Forming those tiny crystals on the ice sheet can only be done at precise temperature and humidity conditions. This is a particular challenge for Gangneung Curling Center due to its coastal location. To keep the temperature and humidity under control at full crowd capacity, officials even went so far as to replace all the lighting at the facility with LEDs! (Image credit: Pyeongchang 2018, 1, 2, 3)