BUYING FIGURE SKATES
Tips for buying skates
We strongly recommend buying skates from a figure skating shop that specializes in this equipment such as:
Edmonton - United Cycle
- Pro Skate Professional Skate Service
Red Deer - Toe Picks Skating Supplies
Calgary - Professional Skate Service
Figure Skates are necessary at this level. The skates have two key components: The boot and the blade.
The boot - Traditionally, figure skating boots were made from many layers of leather. In recent years, synthetic materials with heat moldable linings have been popular because they combine strength with lighter weight.
The blade - When viewed from the side, the blade of a figure skate is curved slightly, forming an arc of a circle. There are two edges, inside and outside, with a "hollow" in between. The depth of the hollow determines how sharp the blade is. A deeper hollow results in a sharper blade that grips the ice better. A shallower hollow results in a blade that glides over the ice better. The saw-like teeth at the end of the blade are known as "toe picks". They are necessary for proper balance and the execution of spins, jumps and footwork.
Until recently, most figure skaters bought boots and blades separately. Now, boot and blade combination packages are available for beginning and intermediate level skaters.
Skates come in a wide variety of styles and strengths. The size and strength of the skater, and level at which they are working, will determine the strength of the boot.
At the PreSTAR and STARSkate levels, buying good quality used figure skates is also an option. Many of these skates have been outgrown not worn out. Make sure that the boot fits well and has efficient ankle support, and the blades have some sharpening life left.
Inexpensive skates sold at sporting goods stores may draw some buyers. Remember you get what you pay for.
When going to buy new skates, be prepared to spend at least an hour for the fitting. Have the skater wear similar clothing (skirts/shorts and tights) as they would during a regular skating session. That way, you have a better view of the legs and feet during the fitting.
During the fitting, have the skater walk around for at least 10 minutes with the skates on. This will allow for time to get used to the fit and feel of the skates. Skates are an investment, so the right fit is really important.
GETTING THE PROPER FIT
The proper fit of figure skates is essential. A common misconception is that an athlete's skate size will be the same as their shoe size. Similar to shoe styles, each brand of skates has different sizing and is unique to the manufacturer.
Buy skates that fit NOW. Skates that are sized too big, in the hope that they will fit the skater for more than one season, can cause discomfort, poor support and possibly lead to injury.
If skates are too big, a skater's foot will move in the boot potentially causing blisters, callouses, etc. If the skates are too small, issues such as corns, bunions, and heel growths may develop. Essentially the boot must fit like a glove.
TIPS FOR CORRECT SIZING
Here are a few tips to help you check on correct sizing:
Toes, Heels, and Ankles
- There needs to be some wiggle room for the toes inside the boot. The toes will be able to move slightly up and down, and the end of the toes will lightly brush the end of the boot.
- Too much movement of the toes sideways is a sign the boot may be too wide.
- Too much pressure on the toes may indicate that the boot is too short or that a boot with a wider toe box is needed.
- the heel must sit comfortably in the heel area to provide maximum foot control. You do not want the heel to slip or move.
- Check the ankle area. Does the skate fit comfortably and properly around the ankle? Does it provide enough support?
Length and Width
- Look at the foot, does it rest easily in the boot without putting too much pressure on the toes?
- To check the length, have the skater slide their foot all the way forward in the boot while keeping the toes flat. Insert your index finger behind the heel. If you can fit more than 1 finger width behind the heel, the boot may be too long. Some manufacturers recommend only being able to fit 1/2 finger width behind the heel.
- Skates also come in many different widths, so sometimes instead of going longer, the skate needs to be wider.
Ongoing Care for Your Skates
- Use skate guard when not on the ice. Remember to remove the guards when the skates are stored.
- After a skating session, use a towel or chamois to drive dry the blades and the bottom of the boots. This will help to prevent rust on the blade.
- At night, take the skates out of the bag and open them so they can dry out. This will eliminate odors and help boots keep their support longer.
- The bottom pick MUST NOT be taken off during sharpening. The pick is part of the design and is important for proper balance and skill execution.
- A sharp blade feels smooth. A blade that needs sharpening will have nicks, bumps or notches on the edges.
- How often do blades need to be sharpened? This depends on how often the skater skates, how hard they skate and how well the blades are taken care of.
- To ensure the blades are sharpened correctly, take them to a figure skating shop for sharpening.