Friday, February 4, 2011

Skating Through Winter: A Guide to Ice Skates: Part 2: How to Buy Ice Skates


Hope you enjoyed my discussion of the history of ice skates and are ready for part 2

How to Buy Ice Skates:

Although not everyone is a competitive figure skater or hockey player, you need proper ice skates to prevent injuries.

Ideally to buy an ice skate you should go to a store that specializes in ice skates and has a sales representative who can fit your feet and abilities. Even beginner skates typically cost at least $150. Although many department and discount stores offer cheaper options, without an experienced sales person you are less likely to find skates that will properly fit. A cheaper option is to buy used boots and blades (USFSA, n.d.).


Ice skates should fit tightly around the foot with no extra room, especially the heel (USFSA). Ideally, skates should fit like a glove (Farris, n.d.) To find the proper fit, you need to try on many pairs of boots. Some boots are designed for narrow feet, while others feature high arches (USFSA). When trying on boots be sure to wear the same kind of socks you would normally skate in. Because ice skates are tight fitting, thin socks are best.

For beginner or casual skaters, soft comfortable boots are best. However, as you get more advanced you need stronger supportive boots (Farris).

Beginner ice skates and hockey skates come with the blade attached. For more advanced figure skates, boots and blades are purchased separately. This allows for more customization, so skaters can find the right combination that works for them.

My custom-made Klingbeil ice skates. 
Another ice skate option popular with advanced figure skaters is custom made boots. I have been skating in my custom made Klingbeil boots for most of my skating career (see above picture). Although they are slightly more expensive than many stock boots, I know they fit just right and last. My last pair I wore for about five and a half years, where as many skaters go through skates every 6 months to a year (Tremain, n.d.). Mine lasted longer because they were able to be re-strengthened and fixed.  The advantage of custom made boots is that they are designed specifically to fit your feet. The sales person will trace your foot, take precise measurements, and sometimes make a mold of your foot. This also aids in the breaking-in new ice skates. My custom-made Klingbeils are the most comfortable skates I have worn.

New ice skates will often be uncomfortable and require a break in period. Over time the skates will mold to be more comfortable. However, adjustments may be needed if skates remain uncomfortable for a prolonged period of time.

I hope this helps you buy ice skates. Please let me know if you have any questions or your own tips.


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Sources:

Farris, J.S. (n.d.). Before you buy figure skates. About.com. Retrieved February 3, 2011 from http://figureskating.about.com/od/bootsandblades/bb/skates.htm.

Tremain, L. (n.d.). Boot problems and boot solutions. United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA). Retrieved February 3, 2011 from http://www.usfsa.org/content/Boot%20Problems%20and%20Boot%20Solutions.pdf.

United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA). (n.d.). Buying the right figure skates for your child. Retrieved February 3, 2011 from http://www.usfigureskating.org/content/BS-boots%20and%20blades.pdf

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