To those of who grew up in northern climes during the last four decades and spent any significant amount of time on the ice, or for anyone who watched Hockey Night in Canada, the Zamboni is a familiar sight. Every hour during open skating sessions or in between periods of a hockey game, the Zamboni would roll out and scrape the shavings off the ice and then lay down a film of water to fill in the ruts in the ice. In the smaller local rinks, you'd also be familiar with the smell of the exhaust fumes from the tractor-like machines. Some rinks have also had incidents with people being sickened by carbon monoxide fumes.

The city of Toronto is now moving to replace traditional Zambonis with new electrically-driven units produced in Finland. At $160,000 each, the IceCats aren't going to replace Zambonis overnight. So far there are only four IceCats in Canada, including Toronto's first unit. Ironically, Toronto has chosen to use its first IceCat at the Nathan Philips Square outdoor rink in front of City Hall rather than at one of the many indoor rinks where it might do the most good. But then it wouldn't get as much attention or do as much for the city's image.

UPDATE: ABG reader Gary writes in: Although the machine was previewed at an outdoor rink, Nathan Phillips Square, it is actually in use, and has been since April 2008, at Centennial Recreation Center in Scarborough on the Ice Galaxy Figure Skating pad. The City of Toronto has two (2) of these machines - the second unit being placed at Bill Bolton Arena

[Source: Wired via Autoblog]

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