Ask The Expert
Buying and Fitting Skates FAQ's
1. Why is it important that skates fit properly?
A boot that fits properly is essential to skating enjoyment and success. Make sure you buy thick, leather boots with generous ankle support. You should never buy boots that are too big in the hopes that a thick sock will make them fit better. Bulky or thick socks can limit the support provided by your skates and create "bumps" inside your boots which make them uncomfortable. Too much room in the skate can also cause the foot to slide and hamper the skater's progress. This may also cause blisters from the boot rubbing on the foot and heel. If your skates are too big, lacing them tightly will not improve the fit. The boots will break down faster if you need to tighten the laces to ensure a snug fit, causing decreased ankle support which may lead to injury.
2. How do I know if I have the correct fit?
A correctly fitted boot should feel snug in the heel. There should be little or no movement when you try to lift your heel. Your toes should be able to wiggle freely but not slide from side to side. In young children whose feet experience frequent growth spurts it is suggested that when fitting skates that the child first inserts the foot snuggly into the heel "cup", then stands and bends the knee so that the foot slides forward. Then insert your index finger behind the heel. No more than one finger width is recommended which allows for growth up to one year. In children and adults whose feet have stopped growing, no more than half a finger width is recommended or else the boot is too long.
3. Is buying used skates okay?
Good used skates are okay for your child, especially in the beginning stages. It is better to have a good quality used boot than an inexpensive lower quality boot. When purchasing a used boot be sure the boot has adequate support and that the blades still has some sharpening left in them.
4. How should I lace my skates to ensure a proper fit?
Correct lacing of skates is important to the overall enjoyment of the sport. Once the foot is inserted into the boot with the heel snug in the heel "cup" begin lacing the skate from the toe to the ankle. Do not pull the laces too tight in this area. Next is the most important part. Tighten the laces the most where the foot and the ankle bend. Give a good tug and pull hard. Next lace around the hooks. You should not pull too hard in this area in order to leave some room for the ankle to bend. Finish with a secure bow and tuck the loops inside the top of the boot to prevent the blade from catching ths lace and to keep the top hooks from coming undone. If your skates don't feel secure after lacing then the laces are too loose. If you cannot bend your knees after lacing them then the laces are too tight. Never wrap the laces around the ankle as this creates a pressure point on the boot that will cause a crease to form there. This may cause the tendon guards to break and shorten the llif of your upper boots. If your laces are too long wrap them back down the hooks or purchase a shorter pair.
5. Can I purchase skates without trying them on?
It is possible to fit skates without trying them on by carefully tracing and measuring the skater's feet. This is especially helpful for those who wish to order online, by telephone or by fax. While seated in a relaxed position and holding a pencil in an upright vertical position, trace carefully around both feet. Measure each foot in inches or centimetres as follows: the width of the tracing at the widest part of the foot; the total length of the foot from the heel to the big toe; the circumference around the ball of the foot using a string or measuring tape. Also include the skater's age, height, weight, Test Level, and previous skate brand and size.
6. What is heat molding?
Skates with leather soles are heat moldable to provide a better fit. The skates are heated in a convection oven for several minutes by a professional skating technician, then brought back out and quickly put on the feet. The skates are then left on the feet for about 15 minutes so that they mold directly to the skater's feet.
7. What is "bumping" or "punching"?
Skates that fit but still feel uncomfortable can be "bumped" or "punched" out in troublesome spots by having a professional skating technician stretch the leather slightly in that area.
Care of Skating Boots FAQ's
1. Should I waterproof my boots?
Some skates with leather soles come pre-sealed from the factory. It is advisable to waterproof or "seal" the soles that are not pre-sealed as leather that is wet and cannot dry out will start to rot and then will not hold the blade's screws. Sno-Seal or another beeswax preparation should be applied to the sole before the blade is mounted. It is applied and then melted in with a hair dryer. The application of Sno-Seal should be repeated periodically, approximately every 6 - 8 weeks, to help waterproof, nourish and protect the heels and soles of your boots.
2. Barefoot or socks?
Although many skaters prefer to go barefoot in their skates, it is much harder on the skates than wearing even a thin pair of socks. Moisture is the number one enemy of skates and wearing any type of sock will absorb some of the moisture from your feet and keep it from entering your boots. If you prefer barefoot then you should remove the insoles from your skates as soon as they are taken off after skating.
3. How should I store my skates between skating sessions?
Skates should be allowed to dry thoroughly when not in use in order to maintain the quality of the leather. Never store the boots in a sealed bag between sessions. Wipe the boots thoroughly with a soft cloth or chamois after leaving the ice and leave them out to air dry when you get home. Loosen the laces and pull the tongue up and out as much as you can to help the inside of the boot breathe. Never dry the boots near a heat source or the leather will dry out too much.
4. What other things can I do to protect my skates?
Scuffs to leather uppers can be minimized by using skate tape, boot covers or over-the-boot tights. The use of polish will also make your boots look cleaner and help prevent the leather from drying out.
Blade Care FAQ's
1. How do I care for the blade mounting?
Some skates come as a package with the boot and blade attached. When you get a new pair of skates with a separate blade, a professional skate techanician is needed to mount the blade to the skating boot. In either case it is important to maintain your mountings. Check your mountings periodically to test the screws for tightness and to see if any screw are missing. Most blade mountings will have more screw holes than required to firmly mount a blade. If there is a hole in the base of the boot and no screw, that is an indication that one is missing and needs to be replaced.The unfilled holes provide additional locations for later, if some of the existing holes "strip out"
2. How do I care for my blades when wearing my skates?
To protect your blades from nicks and gouges, always wear hard rubber/plastic skate guards when off the ice. Even the rubber mats that lead from the dressing room to the ice surface accumulate dirt and grit from the shoes of pedestrians and this dirt will nick your blades. When you step on and off the ice be careful of the threshold on the entry door. It is often made of steel and if you step on it, it will nick your blades. Step over the threshold and not on it as you get onto the ice.
3. How do I care for my blades when off the ice?
In order to prevent your blades from rusting, always dry off your blades when you get off the ice. Slide your fingers along both sides to remove "snow" as soon as you get off and then put on your "hard" rubber/plastic guards. After taking off your skates, remove the "hard" guards and wipe the blades down with a towel or chamois. Wipe both the blade areas and the mounting surfaces as screws rust, too. Before you put them in your bag, put them in soft covers or "soakers" to help absorb further moisture and to stop them banging against each other inside your bag. Never store your blades in the "hard" guards as there is still moisture inside and this will cause your blades to rust and ruin your sharpening. Clean out the "hard" guards periodically in case dirt or grit has accumulated inside them.
Blade Sharpening FAQ's
1. Who should I get to sharpen my blades?
Be careful who you trust with your blades. Make sure they are sharpened by a figure skating specialist. Never have your skates sharpened in a place that uses an automated machine. Figure skates should be sharpened from the front of the rocker to the rear, which is not the full length of the blade. Automated machines sharpen beyond the length of the rocker ruining the contour of the blade. Figure skates must also be sharpened to create a hollow. The hollow creates two edges, inside and outside. A good skate sharpener will check the levelness of these edges using a "square" after sharpening. The bottom pick should not be removed. It is part of the design and is essential to balance.
2. How do I know if my blades need sharpening?
You can generally tell if your skates need sharpening by how they perform on the ice. If you feel that you are not gripping the ice or are sliding too much sideways when you skate, then you probably need to sharpen them. An easy test for sharpness is to run the back of your fingernail lightly across the edge of the blade . If some shavings peel off your nail then they are still sharp.
3. How often should I sharpen my blades?
How often you should sharpen your blades depends on the quality of blade, the amount of skating you do and how hard you skate. Beginner level blades are made of softer steel and need to be sharpened more often. than intermediate and advanced level blades. Beginner level blades (Canskate Programs) should be sharpened every 8 - 10 hours of skating time. Intermediate level blades (Junior and Intermediate Programs) should be sharpened every 20 - 25 hours. Advanced level blades (Above Intermediate Programs) should be sharpened every 35 - 45 hours of skating. It is also suggested that you have your skates sharpened at least one week before a competition, ice show or test.