When shopping for figure skates, it is easy to leave off the importance of the blades and pay more attention to the boot and the price point, grabbing the least expensive set of blades that you can get.
But the blades of the skates are what will affect your skating abilities the most. In fact, there are many variables to consider when shopping for figure skating blades, including the type of skater that you are and what you want to get from your skates.
The Cost Differences
A common question about figure skating blades is why there are so many variations in pricing. There are many reasons why blades have a range of prices, including the material that they are made out of and how they are made.
Beginner and recreational blades are often made with cheaper materials, such as nickel whereas more professional skates use a chrome coating.
On average, figure skating blades are made from tempered carbon steel that has been treated with heat, then coated with either chrome, aluminum, stainless steel, or nickel.
The most expensive blades are the carbon steel with high-quality chrome on the outside, where less expensive blades will be made from stainless steel and coated with nickel. The more expensive blades hold up longer than the cheaper blades do.
The pricier blades also do not need to be sharpened as often because they can hold onto their edges while still allowing skaters to have smoother jumps and spins.
The toe-pick on figure skates is designed to help skaters stop and manoeuvre. There are two types of toe-picks: straight cut and cross cut.
The straight cut toe-pick allows you to dig deeper into the ice in order to help lift you off of the ice. This type of pick can cost you momentum, however. Meanwhile, a cross cut toe-pick cannot dig as deeply into the ice, so you will not get as much height, but you also lose less momentum. For beginners, a cross cut pick is a better choice for control.
Additionally, you will need to be cautious when sharpening your blades to not damage the toe-pick. If any of the lower picks are removed during the sharpening process, the entire blade can lose its integrity and become compromised, inhibiting your safety as well as your control on the ice.
The hollow of a skate is the surface on the bottom of the skate. There is actually a groove that runs down the center of a figure skating blade, leaving you with two higher edges. The hollow can be anywhere from half an inch deep up to three-quarters of an inch deep, but average is somewhere in the middle.
The deeper the hollow, the sharper and more secure the edges are. A deep hollow is really only for advanced skaters, however, as the deeper hollows are harder to control. Deeper hollows cause more drag than shallower hollows do. New skaters with beginner figure skates should opt for a shallower hollow, but not so shallow that you don’t get the security that you need from the blades.
There are a few different styles of figure skating blades to choose from as well. The average blade is a parallel style, where the edges of the blades are the same width down both edges. Meanwhile, parabolic blades are thinner in the middle of the blade, but thicker on the end. The advantage to parabolic blades is that you wind up with more control over your skates.
Side honed is another type of figure skating blade. Here, the sides of the blades have been shaped so that water and ice will be channelled away from the blade itself, preventing you from slipping.
Lastly, tapered blades are thicker at the end of the skate, but thinner as the blade does back to the heel. The edges do not run parallel. The advantage of tapered blades is that there is a reduction in drag, preventing tripping and allowing for more complex footwork.
Differences Between Figure Skating Blades and Hockey Skate Blades
Even though the most obvious answer is to say that figure skates are for figure skating and hockey skates are for hockey, there are other differences between the constructions of the blades themselves.
To begin with, the blade on a figure skate has the toe-picks at the top to help with jumps and other manoeuvres that a hockey player wouldn’t need.
A hockey blade is also normally riveted to the bottom of the hockey boot, whereas most figure skates have the blades and boots separately, so the blade is attached using removable screws. You can get figure skates that have the blade permanently attached, but that is really only for recreational skaters.
All figure skates will need to be sharpened at some point, but the frequency that you sharpen at will vary based on several factors. The first is the quality of the blade. Low-end skates dull quicker than high-end skates do and, as a result, will wear down faster.
The amount of skating you do will also affect how often you should get your skates sharpened. There is a big difference between skating once a month and skating five times a week.
It is important to keep your blades sharpened in order to give you the support and security that you need on the ice. You will not have as much control on a pair of dull blades as you do with a sharper pair of blades. You will be able to tell when skating if your skates do not feel secure any longer and need to be sharpened.
Home sharpening with Sparx Skate Sharpener is a great alternative to commercial sharpening.
If you take good care of your figure skating blades, they will also take good care of you. You need to keep them clean, sharpened, and well-maintained. Blades do not last forever, however, and eventually you will need to upgrade the blades for a new pair.
Always take into consideration your skating style and your needs. Quality blades improve your overall safety as well as your abilities on the ice.
Hey there, my name is Shawn and I’m a semi-professional hockey player. I’m also the founder and chief editor here at Hockey Pursuits. I love playing hockey and helping players improve their game and that’s why I decided to start this blog.