Chart Of Average Weights For Women Of Various Dress Sizes The Ice Skating Boot and Blade – Where Do I Start?

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The Ice Skating Boot and Blade – Where Do I Start?

It can be difficult for a beginner rider to stay balanced in a boot with a thin blade. The boot may seem like some sort of torture device rather than a sophisticated tool. The boot and the blade are the main equipment used in skating and the most important. The old saying “you are only as good as your equipment” is true. It’s better to skate to the skill of your equipment than to try to outdo your skates!

You will soon realize how important it is to invest in a good pair of boots and blades. Rental equipment is often not the best to learn on, and it really doesn’t hold up well to your feet. Beginner skaters often get frustrated simply because their rental shoes don’t fit well. Riders leave the ice thinking they can’t learn this sport, when in fact they may be lacking equipment.

When I first started skating, I didn’t fully understand this concept. Buying my first pair of boots was a real learning experience. After looking at all the options at the skate shop and trying several, I decided on a used Harlicks with blades. They are great, cost less than a new pair and fit my feet perfectly. What a difference compared to rental skates!

I learned a few other things that day: I didn’t know that shoes and blades are separate tools. Although a few manufacturers install them, most do not. Another thing- there are so many options!-Although it was a little annoying, the skate shop employees were very helpful and informative. There are probably 10 boot manufacturers that most riders use, such as Riedell, Jackson, Risport, GAM, Klingbeil, and Edea.

Some resources I would recommend that will help you research some of the brands are:

• kinziescloset where they have great information on skating shoes

• use an image that includes a comparison chart of skating shoes

The important thing to remember when choosing a boot is to focus on a few key areas of the boot– the toe box, heel and ankle. The toe box is the area where all your toes sit. Your toes should be able to move up and down. Your toes should not be too tight or as if they are pushing the bottom of the boot. The heel should fit snugly in the back of the boot and should not turn. And, there is the ankle, which should be sure to be able to bend in the boot when needed. Basically, the boot needs to be comfortable. If you feel like you’re pushing it in any way, try again.

The two most common brands for beginning skaters are Riedell and Jackson boots. The Riedell brand offers a neat feature where when the boots are put on the skater, they are actually removed and placed in a microwave-like oven. It warms the skin layer so it can mold the foot. I’ve always thought this was a really cool concept! Jackson will probably do it too, but both are good starting shoes. And, they all have multiple boots with blades.

Once you choose a boot that feels good on your feet, there are four things to consider about shoe thickness or strength: 1) your height and weight, 2) how often you skate, 3 ) your skating height and 4) your foot width. Your height and weight– as an adult rider, depending on your height and weight, you may put more use into your boot and need something stronger. Also, since adults don’t outgrow skates, you want to choose a strength level that lasts longer than regular skates. Therefore, be sure to ask the person fitting your skates for the appropriate strength for these factors.

How often do you skate– if you start skating during your lessons and once a week, your boots will last longer and you won’t have to worry about boot strength. If you skate more often, they will wear out faster, and you may need a shoe with less traction. When I got back into skating as an adult, I skated 3-4 times a week! As you can imagine, my skates wore out quickly, and I needed new skates within the year. So a strength boost can help with that.

The level of your skating – if you are just learning, it is unlikely that you are already jumping and turning, which puts additional pressure on the shoes. As you progress and do more difficult activities, your shoes need to be stronger to support the activity. For example, at the end of my competitive year, I bought a pair of boots with two laces, which double as leather to support my jumps and turns. If I only did two jumps and two combinations, there are riders who do triple jumps that need stronger boots.

The width of your feet – this is a factor like when trying on normal shoes every day. Each pair fits your feet. For example, I started with a pair of used Harlick shoes that fit the width of my feet perfectly. Then, when I bought my first pair of new skates, I talked about buying a pair of SP Terris, which tend to have wider feet. These shoes almost ruined my feet. SP Terris are not bad shoes, they are just bad for my feet. I went right back to Harlicks and my feet are much happier! (As a side note, you can ask about used skates at a skate shop. Although they may not be offered to you as an option, they do have them!)

Once you progress to skating, you can (and probably should) move up to a regular boot. The great thing about custom boots is that skate shops actually monitor your feet, take your foot measurements and send your personal information to the boot manufacturer. You can order a variety of linings, padding and piping that make the boots more comfortable. When they come back, they almost fit you – like a glove. The reason I say almost is that sometimes the boots need a little adjustment, but most of them fit well on the first try. Regular shoes reduce the break-in period and feel amazing! Although regular boots are more expensive, if you spend hours in the boots, the price is worth it!

For all the creative souls out there, another benefit of buying custom boots is that you can order them in any color and pattern! I took advantage of this option. During my skating career, I have had tan, aqua blue, purple and marble blue boots, gold, silver and now I have a beautiful bronze pair with a rose design embossed on the leather. I had so much fun picking out the colors!

Let’s talk about another important tool in skating – the blade. There are fewer manufacturers of blades than shoes. Some of the major blade manufacturers are Wilson, Paramount, MK, Ultima and Eclipse.

Skate blades are usually made of carbon steel and plated with high quality chrome. Lightweight aluminum and stainless steel blades are also becoming common. The blade is approximately 3/16 inch thick and may vary in taper style. They come in a radius of 7 or 8 feet. Radius refers to the curvature of the blade. The radius of the 8-foot blade is less curved, or bent, and will give you more speed. A smaller radius of 7 feet will make you more agile and allow for faster response and turns. Skaters usually start with a 7 foot radius and then work their way up to an 8 foot radius. However, personally I always preferred the 7 foot radius and never made the switch. Every skater has their preferences.

The radius also plays with the rocker. The rocker is the part of the blade behind the toe. This is where the rotation of the blade is done and helps to take off from the jump. I liked the more prominent rocker which is another reason I preferred the 7 foot radius.

Last but not least, there are the dreaded toes. These are the teeth of the blade. Anyone who has seen the movie, “The Cutting Edge” remembers how it can cause toes to fall off! As a beginner foot player, you may be more hesitant to have strong toes at first but no matter what size the toes are, you will get used to it. The purpose of the foot is to take off and land jumps and is also used in a variety of turns and flying turns. I hiked the first 20 years of my career with soft soles but then I discovered MK’s “Phantom” blade. If you’ve seen the toes of that blade, it’s scary – at first. However, once I got used to it, I have to say that the flame made a big difference in my skating career. My jumps are really starting to fly and the rocker on these blades is great so the spin has improved as well. Nice tongue!

For beginners, MK blade called Cornation Ace is good. It can take you to the middle level. There is a similar non-MK blade, more expensive which is also good. But when you can afford it, check out some of the better blades – you’ll be glad you did! The 99 model is a favorite among long-time riders and there are many new models that are great! And, don’t forget the Phantom blade as an intermediate blade forward as well.

There’s gobs more I could tell you about shoes and blades, but I’ll keep it simple on purpose. The main thing is to choose a boot that is comfortable on your feet, a good blade that is higher than your current height to move and all at a price you can afford.

Happy skiing!

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