Is it better to roll out half-baked green technology or wait until it’s perfected? If the technology is going to be seen at an international event, it’s probably best to wait. That’s the lesson learned this week by Resurfice, the official ice resurfacer of the Olympic games.
The company unleashed its electric-powered resurfacing machine at the Richmond Oval’s speedskating event on Monday only to have it fail. A second one was brought out, only to fail as well. The most embarrassing part: Olympic organizers ended up having to call in a traditional propane-powered resurfacer from Zamboni, which lost out on this year’s bid to be the official Olympics ice resurfacer.
In an interview last month with The New York Times, Resurfice founder Don Schlupp said that the Olympics’ call for a more sustainable resurfacing machine triggered the company to develop the technology faster than it would have otherwise. Maybe that was a mistake. The electric resurfacer costs $160,000–twice as expensive as a propane model–and after such a public failure, few ice rinks are likely to invest in it anytime soon. If you’re going to show off pricey experimental technology to the world, you better make sure it works correctly.