It’s a classic spiritual question: Could Mr. Hockey, Lord of All Things Icicle, build a rink so large that even he could not Zamboni it? Well, UPsupply.com, a company devoted to all things Upper Peninsula, might have an answer after they crunched the numbers the Earth’s largest* potential rink.
Saying hockey is important in Michigan is a bit of an understatement; hockey is love, hockey is life, especially in the UP. We’re talking about a massive stretch of land surrounded by some of the biggest lakes in the world with only a little more than 300,000 people living in it. Big empty stretches of ice are a part of their daily lives. Might as well play some hockey on it!
So the idea of turning Lake Superior, the largest fresh water lake in the world (by surface area) into a giant hockey rink is almost a natural progression for those in the frozen north. Lake Superior is so large, that it usually doesn’t totally freeze in the winter, and is stays very cold even in the height of the UP’s very short and mild summer. This winter has been exceptionally cold however, and the lake is already 75 percent covered in ice, according to NOAA, with a few more weeks of ice building to go. All it would take is a few super cold days to get to total coverage. The last time Lake Superior totally froze over was in 1996 UPsupply notes, though it got close in 2014.
So what do the numbers look like? Let’s let UPsupply break it down (emphasis theirs):
We’ll start by converting Superior and an ice rink into acres.
Lake Superior: 31,700 * 640 = 20,288,000 acres
Ice rink: 17,000 / 43,560 = 0.39 acres
1 frozen Lake Superior = 52,020,513 ice rinks.
At aboout 7 minutes per rink it would take 364,143,591 minutes to resurface all of Lake Superior. That is 252,877 days.
In all, that means it would take approximate 693 years to resurface Lake Superior in its entirety. The ice resurfacer will have driven approximately 39,015,384 miles.
And if you wanted to get all of that resurfacing done during a normal 20-minute intermission (cause who has time for that, no beer line is THAT long) you’d need 18,207,179 Zamboni machines and drivers operating at once. Not bad, once you realize Lake Superior is roughly the same size as South Carolina. Now that’s a hell of a game of hockey.
*Since the Caspian is brackish, temperatures must fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for salt water to freeze. It ain’t in the running. Take your geography takes elsewhere.