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Figure Skates

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A fun way to exercise and spend time with friends and family, figure skating works many muscles as well as your cardio system. To ensure you get the most out of your time on the ice, you need a well-fitting pair of skates. We find out what to look for from a Canadian Olympic figure skater.

   BUYING TIPS

The Basics

  • A good-fitting boot is very important. You should be able to wiggle your toes without trouble. Too short and your toes will squish and lose circulation. Too long and the ball of your foot will not be in the right place over the blade, throwing you off-balance.

  • For novice skaters, the leather boot should be flexible, but stiff enough to provide support. High-end skates are very stiff and meant for advanced skaters.

  • Once you’ve found the right skates, ask the retailer to heat-mold them to your feet. Most specialty skate shops do this at no extra charge. They heat the boot up in a special oven and when you put them on your feet the boot will mold to your foot as the leather cools. It’s much faster than breaking them in. But if you don’t use them, they’ll revert back to their natural shape and you have to get them heat-molded again

  • If you don’t do the heat-mold, ensure comfort on the ice by breaking them in at home (wearing blade guards) for up to 5 hours (not necessarily all at once!)

  • For children’s skates, make sure they fit snugly. If they’re too big, skating will be difficult. Children’s skates are often available at used sporting goods shops, and some specialty skate shops do children’s skates on consignment since kids grow out of them so quickly.

  • Most skates are sold as one item (boots with blades attached). Look for skates that have blades screwed in rather than riveted, which means you can replace the blades if they wear out, rather than buying new skates. (Professional skaters usually buy boots and blades separately.)

  • For beginner and intermediate skaters, make sure the toe pick (the jagged teeth at the front tip of the blade) is small enough not to trip the wearer. Advanced skaters use larger toe picks to really dig in for those big jumps.

Other Considerations

  • It’s better to wear thin socks than thick socks, and use boot covers to keep your feet warm.

  • Make sure you buy and use your skate guards to help keep your blades sharp. However, don’t store you skates with the guards on unless they are all completely dry, or they may rust.

  • Buying used skates will probably save you about half the cost of new ones, and they’re already broken in. Just make sure that the boots are still supportive and that the blades aren’t worn out.

Be Aware

  • Don’t buy skates with Velcro fasteners. They don’t tighten well or provide enough support. Lace-ups are more work to put on, but they do a better job at keeping your foot secure.

   Shop

 

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