Crash Pads Help Skaters Learning New Jumps

This week I want to talk about crash pads for skaters. Pads can be very beneficial for skaters learning new jumps that require many repetitions and falls to master. I usually have my skaters get pads when they are learning their axel. If they’re falling a lot on another single jump, I might recommend crash pads earlier.

Since the axel jump is 1½ rotations in the air, it takes more time and practice to master than the previous jumps. Also, the longer the rotation, the more height and rotation speed required. This causes falls on jumps like the axel and above to have more force with the skater possibly getting a bruise or another injury.

Even if the falls aren’t that hard, just falling many times in a row can cause muscle soreness or bruising. Another advantage of pads is that they usually give the skater an extra boost of confidence that makes the jump easier because the skater isn’t as afraid of falling.

There are various crash pads for skaters, including pants you can buy with pads sewn in already. My favorite individual pads are made by Waxel Pad. They’re a foam material that’s available in ½-inch, ¾-inch or 1-inch thickness. Waxel Pads have small, medium, and large sizes available, but the medium size in a ½-inch or ¾-inch thickness works best for most skaters. You can buy the hip or butt pads separately, although I recommend just getting the set of three with both hip pads and the butt pad.

Happy skating! 🙂

January 22, 2012

How to Find Competitive Skating Attire

Christina Chitwood and Mark Hanretty performing the Golden Waltz at the 2010 World Figure Skating Championships in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Clive Rose - Getty Images)

Christina Chitwood and Mark Hanretty performing the Golden Waltz at the 2010 World Figure Skating Championships in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Clive Rose - Getty Images)

This week I’m going to talk about competitive skating attire. While competition is judged on skating skills, it’s still important to leave a positive impression on the judges through a classy appearance.

Costume

For technical events, the outfit or dress often helps the judges remember the skater (the girl in the red dress, etc.), so having an outfit that works well with a skater’s music is important.

For artistic and spotlight events, much more emphasis is placed on costumes and outfits that help the skater interpret his or her music or character. Often for spotlight events, the most original costume and prop combinations help produce a high competition placement.  

Tights

Another important part of appearance for girls is their tights. I often recommend skin-tone, over-the-boot tights because they help complete the skater’s lines. Also, I recommend having a separate competition pair of tights. The practice pair usually will develop holes fairly quickly. Guys, remember to polish your skates if scuffed.

Hair and Makeup

It’s important to have the skater’s hair looking neat and tidy. There are many different ways to fix hair, depending on the type of music the skater chooses. In addition, I recommend using makeup for girls because the white ice tends to wash out the skater’s face, especially when viewed from a distance. Most competitions have vendors who can do the skater’s hair and makeup.   

Where to Buy Skating Costumes and Accessories

MySkatingMall.com is the eBay of the skating community with a wide variety of new and gently used skating dresses and outfits, equipment, and accessories for low prices. Plus one of my friends started the site – it’s worth checking out! 

eBay.com is another good place to find inexpensive skating dresses and outfits. Numerous students of mine have had good luck there. Just be prepared that skating outfits may not always fit properly because they may have been listed incorrectly. I would avoid buying skates online. Unless you have already been fitted by a professional, it’s hard to know what size boot you need.

A good local pro shop is going to carry skates and accessories. They may also have a limited selection of skating dresses and outfits.

If you need a more elaborate costume for a program, you could check out various online costume stores or plan ahead at Halloween. The other option is to have a seamstress make you a custom costume or dress. Until skaters reach the the highest levels, skating costumes can be purchased inexpensively.

September 30, 2010

Skate Blades and Sharpening

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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.” 

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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

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