by Eric Neubauer
- How frequently should skates be sharpened?
- Typical sharpening frequencies range from every 5 weeks for a daily skater to every nine months for a once-a-week skater. In general, skates need sharpening about every hundred hours of skating as long as care is taken to avoid damage from stepping on metal, concrete or any other hard or abrasive material. Pond ice may contain dirt and stones. One accidental step on concrete will probably ruin the last sharpening. Hard guards and soakers can be used to protect the blades while walking to and from the ice and when the skates are carried in a bag. Always dry off the blades after skating to prevent rusting and make sure the hard guards are also dry if they are going back on the blades. Skates need sharpening when they start to slide sideways too easily. An experienced skater can often tell when the skates are getting dull but beginners can’t, so look for feet skidding sideways when pushing or doing crossovers.
What do I need to know about getting skates sharpened?
The first thing to find out is where. The right place in your area might be the rink, a skate shop or a sharpening specialist. The simplest approach is to ask several more advanced skaters where they go. At a minimum you should make sure that you can get a correct hollow radius and level edges. If the sharpener doesn’t know what a hollow radius is or have a square to check the levelness of the edges after sharpening, it might be better to go some place else. The grinding stone is dressed to a circular shape to make a hollow along the bottom of the blade. The hollow radius usually ranges from 3/8″ (deeper) to 3/4″ (shallower). Beginners usually prefer a 5/8 or 3/4″ hollow. Advanced skaters usually use a 3/8 to 1/2″ hollow.
Can I tell if my skates have been sharpened correctly by looking at the blades?
You can compare the radius of the hollow with the edge of a penny. If the penny fits exactly, the radius is 3/8″. If it can roll back and forth a bit, the radius is greater than 3/8″. If it touches at both sides but doesn’t reach the bottom, it is less than 3/8″ and a beginner will have a lot of trouble stopping. You can also check the levelness by balancing a pen or pencil across the blade. If the pen slopes toward either side, the edges are not level. Two other easy things to check are to make sure the bottom of the blade curves smoothly from front to back with no sub-curves and that the bottom toe pick hasn’t been ground off. Both of these problems will make the blade virtually useless for edges, spins and jumps.
ASK THE SKATING PRO
Q. What sort of skates should I get for my three-year-old daughter who has yet to go skating but seems to have a great deal of interest in it?
A. I would suggest that you rent figure skates until she shows sustained definite interest. Put her in a 6 or 8-week group lessons class. After she finishes the class, if she is still interested, new ice skates could be a reward for her commitment to finishing the lessons. Too many parents buy expensive skates before the child even knows if they truly enjoy skating.
When you she shows that interest, we would be more than happy to help you through our Pro Shop at IceSkatingWorld.com.
By Katherine Ruch
There is a common misconception that I often hear from the casual public skater. If I had a dollar for every person that has told me about how they have weak ankles, I would absolutely be a millionaire at this point. People are almost always shocked when I tell them it really has more to do with their ice skates than their ankles. I know it makes such a difference in skating that I often broach the subject with the parents of the kids I teach as soon as I feel like I can without them balking at the concept.
Most skating parents complain about how often they have to purchase new skates for their kids. If you were to travel to rinks around the country, you would find at least one parent who either just bought new skates for their kid or were already counting their dollars to put towards that next pair. Just about every week that I’m at the rink, I hear about someone who got new skates followed by the inevitable whining about how painful it is to break in those expensive things!
As someone who started skating in my late teenage years, I’ll confess that I don’t even know how often most people have to replace their skates! Sure I know the classic signs of skates that are breaking down, having coached for a few years and skated even longer! You look for too much creasing, a lack of support, you know the drill.
Instead of having to replace my skates too often, I find myself having the opposite problem. I have been skating in the same pair of skates for over 4 years. They still have plenty of support and if I can make them look better and smell a lot less stinky, I could probably even get some of my money back. During these years, I have diligently tried to wear them out, wanting something lighter and a little less stiff. Try as I might, I just can’t seem to do it! I have heard lots of suggestions ranging from doing more jumps to simply bending my knees more. I’m sure I will wear out these skates soon, even if I have to run them over with my car…
When I am in the market again for some new skates, I will consider things like stiffness, fit and a whole plethora of other things. Considering that skates are a big investment, it is certainly something that deserves some careful consideration! How often do you find yourself having to replace your skates? What kinds of things do you think about in regards to getting new skates?