Skate Blades and Sharpening

I’m often asked about skate blades and sharpening, so this week’s article is focused on the skate blade. The main fact you need to know is that a blade has two edges – an outside edge and an inside edge.  Between those two edges is the part of the blade that’s called the hollow. 

s_hollow_drawingThe hollow is an arc shape that you see in the picture on right.  The deeper the hollow the more grip and control you will have. But, too deep of a hollow may cause you to be unable to control your skates very well.  Also, you will lose speed with a deeper hollow because there is less of your blade on the ice. 

The toe pick is on the front of the blade.  The toe pick is just for jumping. As you get to higher level skates, the toe picks will get slightly larger. 

John Wilson bladeNext, look at the picture on the right and see how the blade curves in toward the toe pick. The curve in the base of the blade is called the rocker.  This is the part of the blade that spins and most turns are performed on. Technically, you are on either an outside rocker edge or inside rocker edge, depending on the spin or turn. 

blade in waterAnother interesting fact that you may not be aware of is how blades glide on the ice. The weight of your body on the ice melts a thin layer of ice underneath your blade. This thin layer of water creates a lubrication that causes your blade to glide across the ice.  

Hopefully, these facts will give you a little better understanding of how the blade works. As for skate sharpening: Try to sharpen your skates once every 3 months if you skate 1 to 2 times per week.  If you skate 3 times per week, once every 2 months.  If you skate more, once or more every month.

Here’s a helpful video from Rainbo Sports on “Figure Skate Blade Sharpening.”

September 16, 2010

New or Used Skates?

This month I’m going to talk about skating equipment again. Below is an interesting article by Mr. Edge that I read in Skating Magazine about whether to buy new or used skates. I think the article covers the subject well.

I always recommend new unless you can find a good used pair that has decent support left in the boots and enough edge left on the blades. eBay is often the best place to look for used equipment, but it’s hard to know if you found a good fit because you can’t try the skates on before you purchase them online. 

New or used? This is the question many people often ask.

Depending on the condition of the skate, even used skates can cost several hundred dollars. When looking for a used pair of skates be cautious in your assessment of them and do not jump at the opportunity to buy just anything.

Consider the following:  Read more at Ask Mr. Edge.

New Skates Photo Credit: Photo by Fiona Bradley

Used Skates Photo Credit: Photo by Fiona Bradley

September 2, 2010

Get the Competitive Advantage

Christina Chitwood and Mark Hanretty performing at the 2010 World Championships in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Robin Ritoss)

Christina Chitwood and Mark Hanretty performing at the 2010 World Championships in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Robin Ritoss)

Today, I’m focusing on the many advantages you can gain by competing and performing in skating.  My own competitive skating career helped me develop many good traits, such as increased self-confidence and discipline.

Here’s an article from Raising Figure Skaters about increased self-confidence and my sister, Chrissy: Self-Confidence Makes Everything Better.

And here’s an article from Raising Figure Skaters about increased self-motivation, Chea, and me: Success after Competitive Skating Isn’t Just Luck.

I’ve also focused on getting the most out of a skating competition. If you haven’t read my previous articles on being prepared for and getting the most out of a competition, be sure to read them before your first – or next – competition.

Top 3 Competition Essentials

Competition Checklist

How to Get the Most out of a Skating Competition

More on getting the most out of a skating competition from Raising Figure Skaters:

All They Really Need to Know about Competition They Learned in Kindergarten

Important information for parents to remember before their skater competes:

Don’t Forget These Two Words before a Competition Performance

Don’t Forget the Three Most Important Words before a Competition Performance

Please feel free to comment on any of the articles. We appreciate comments and questions, and you will get a response! Have a great competition season!

August 5, 2010

Don’t Forget These Figure-Skating Accessories

Taking care of your ice skates is important in making them last and helping you skate to the best of your ability. Here are some important accessories for skaters.   

Skate Towel – This can be any type of rag or towel. I like micro fiber. Each time you take your skates off, you need to use the towel to dry the blades and the bottom and sides of the boot where it’s wet. If you don’t dry the blade, it might rust and corrode. The boot could warp on the bottom if it stays wet too long. 

Soft Soakers – These are only for putting on your blades after you dry your blades with a towel. The purpose of soakers is to protect the blades when storing and to help absorb any small amounts of moisture on the blades. However, if you don’t dry the blades before you put soakers on your skates, the soakers will just absorb the moisture and keep your blades damp, causing rust. Also, never walk in soakers because they offer almost no protection for walking. You could create nicks in your blades and make holes in the soakers. 

Hard Guards – These are for putting on your blades when you are walking in your skates off ice. They help protect your blades from rocks and other small things that may cause nicks in your blades when you walk over them. Never leave your hard guards on overnight or when you take your skates off. The guards hold water and your blades will rust. Also, make sure you remember to take the guards off before you step on the ice. I have seen many falls from skaters forgetting to take off their guards. 

Laces – All skates come with laces. However, some laces are too long for the skates. If you have to wrap the laces around the top of the boot, you need shorter laces. Wrapping the laces around the top of the boot will break the boot down faster and could cause an ankle injury as well. New laces are inexpensive. I recommend going with a mixed-blend lace. Mixed blend means the lace is a poly/cotton blend. Laces that are 100% nylon are harder on your fingers and can sometimes loosen up while skating. Laces that are 100% cotton stick in the boot holes because they are thicker. But it’s really up to your personal preference.

Gloves – A thin glove is always a good idea if your hands get cold easily. Gloves also make it less painful when you fall. You can usually find a variety of skating gloves online or at skate shops. 

Pads – If you fall on the same spot consistently when learning a jump, I would recommend pads. There are gel pads or foam pads you can put in your leggings to help cushion any falls while mastering jumps. Skate shops and online stores should have a variety of options.

July 22, 2010

Tips for Buying Your First Pair of Figure Skates

Congratulations on buying your first pair of skates! My favorite skate brand is Jackson for most feet. If you have a really narrow foot, Riedells may fit better. 

If your feet are still growing and you’re just starting out, I recommend going with a Jackson Artiste skate. They’re fairly comfortable and come with a blade included. The price is usually $130 but is a bit cheaper for small sizes. For very narrow feet, go with the Riedell 17/117 Red Ribbon Skate for $115. Both these skates will take you up through the Freestyle (FS) 1 to 2 levels.

If you’re at FS 1 or 2, your feet have stopped growing, or you are already close to the Freestyle level classes, I recommend starting with Jackson Freestyle skates.  These boots are heat moldable to your foot, making them a more exact fit. Blades come with the skates. Also, these boots are stiffer and have better blades so they will last longer than the Artiste, usually up though FS 5 to 6.  Depending on size, they range from $225 to 250 for females and are $270 for males.  For very narrow feet, go with the Riedell 133TS skate for $160.  These boots are similar to the Jackson Freestyle skate but can only be partially heat molded to your foot. 

Skate lace tips: 

Keep the laces tight around the bottom part of your foot to keep your foot from slipping.   Then, keep the ankle hooks lose enough to stick two fingers between your ankle and the front (the tongue) of your boot.  This improves knee bend and helps prevent injuries.  Also, don’t wrap your laces around your skates because it can cause them to wear out faster.  Shorter laces (get mixed blend) are a cheap and easy solution.

July 8, 2010