Making ice in Abu Dhabi
by Viesturs Koziols|05 NOV 2022
Participants paint the lines before making the ice.
photo: Ayyadi Zakaria
The International Ice Hockey Federation offers its members ice management seminars on a regular basis.
Last year such a seminar with focus on the Balkan countries was conducted in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Due to stronger restrictions on travel and operations of indoor sporting venues on the continent, the last such event in Asia was held in 2018 in Beijing, China.
In the last few days it was time to go back and work together in Abu Dhabi on making ice. The four-day seminar for members from Asia and Oceania was held by the IIHF Facilities Committee in close cooperation with the IIHF Asia & Oceania Committee in the days after the IIHF Asia and Oceania Strategy Planning Group in Abu Dhabi, and with the local partners of the United Arab Emirates Winter Sports Federation and the Zayed Ice Rink in Abu Dhabi.
“It was a brilliant idea to conduct the 2022 IIHF Ice Management Seminar here in Abu Dhabi because we believe that ice rinks are our basis to be able to play the game, so we believe that it is a good thing that we can give to our stakeholders information on how they can maintain the ice, how they can keep the ice in good shape so that we can play our game because this is something very important in our region as we don’t have that much expertise,” said Mohamad Aref, Technical Director of the UAE Winter Sports Federation.
The ice masters, managers from various hockey arenas and member national associations have learned the skills necessary to create and maintain a top-quality indoor ice surface for daily use in ice hockey and for competitions. 26  participants from 10 countries took part in total.
The working sessions were combined in classroom presentations for the theoretical parts, and on-ice sessions with very practical lessons and team work on ice.
A participant is holding a pipe during the seminar.
photo: Viesturs Koziols
Experts and members of the IIHF Facilities Committee covered several aspects during the seminar including water properties, heat, humidity, ventilation, air conditioning aspects – very important in large parts of the Asia and Oceania region –, ice making tools and supplies, hockey markings, in-ice advertisements, ice-resurfacer operation and safety, daily, weekly and monthly equipment routine checks, energy saving solutions and guidelines for sustainable arenas, as well as best and successful practises available. 

During the seminar all kind of questions have been answered related not only to the ice as such but mostly about how to successfully run a hockey arena, how to guarantee best possible and safe conditions for kids, juniors, pro hockey players and how to cooperate with other ice sports, how to prepare and expose in-ice advertising and more.

“We learned new ice-making techniques, new technologies, a new way how to make good ice,” Hassan Mostafa, the manager of the Zayed Ice Rink in Abu Dhabi, said after the seminar. “From the IIHF’s ice experts we learned the proper way to take the measurements, how to paint the ice and how to put the under-ice advertising.”

The IIHF Facilities Committee members were also invited to visit the Dubai Mall ice rink with a request to find best options and advice on how to deal with extra humidity in that arena. Based on the committee’s recommendations, the rink management changed few technical details and will work on additional changes to be able to secure good ice quality for the Emirates Hockey League, international exhibition games and tournaments.
Group photo of the participants of the IIHF Ice Management Seminar in Abu Dhabi.
photo: Viesturs Koziols
The IIHF made investments and purchased an ice making and maintenance equipment kit and supplies necessary for the seminar. Now it will permanently stay in the Asia and Oceania region and can be used on a regular basis for similar events in the future.

“Together with the IIHF Facilities Committee we decided to have an ice making and management seminar here in Asia after a long break,” said Aivaz Omorkanov, IIHF Regional Vice-President for Asia & Oceania. “We started the discussions with our member national associations that it is very important to have such a seminar in our region and it will be good help to our members, especially for those with only one or two ice rinks, to know how to make a good ice, how to manage it all year around. It is very important to us and I believe that we did everything to have as many participants as possible on-site here in Abu Dhabi.”

Viesturs Koziols, IIHF Council member and chairperson of the IIHF Facilities Committee, was satisfied with the seminar and its outcome.

“Seeing such enthusiasm and very positive, eager-to-learn attitude from all participants I can only thank everybody who made the seminar possible,” Koziols said.

“The Facilities Committee members and experts are full of energy to organize similar events on a regular basis in regions where ice hockey is in a development stage. Knowledge on how to make good ice and how to successfully maintain ice hockey arenas is equally or even more important as in established hockey countries.”