The Physics Of Ice Skating
It can get so cold that ice skates won't work. The reason is that they work on some simple principles that involve pressure and temperature and change of state.
It does get too cold to ice skate. When I say this I don't mean that it's so cold that you can't protect your body. I mean that it sometimes becomes too cold for the principles that make ice skating work to apply. Let me explain.
Ice skating is really the act of sliding on a thin layer of water. You see when you ice skate what you do is apply the total force of your body's weight downward onto the narrow edge of the skate blades. Since pressure is force divided by area, the pressure generated on the surface of the ice by placing all your weight on a very small area is tremendous. It is so high that it actually causes a thin layer of water to form at the point of contact. This film of water floats in the channel created by the skate blade and reduces the friction between the skate and the ice. The result is the skate "glides" on a channel of water above the ice surface.
Since ice skating involves the principles of pressure creating liquid water and this water being the lubricant which reduces friction and allows the skate to "glide", it becomes clear that without liquid water skating just doesn't work. This is what happens when the temperature reaches about 20 degrees below zero Farenheit (-29 degrees celsius)is that the water formed refreezes almost instantly. This means that the lubrication that reduces the friction between the ice surface and the skate blade is also gone, therefore no "glide". In fact the refreeze of the water traps the skates and holds them in the channel that is formed.
The temperature at which this refreeze happens is not exact, and varies from skater to skater. This is because the time it takes the water to refreeze is dependent on many factors such as the amount of water that is created, the weight of the skater, and the pressure applied by the skate edge to name a few. However, for any skater anywhere at some temperature it simply becomes too cold for ice skates to work.