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 Types of Ice Skates

Each type of ice sports requires a different type of skates.  Therefore ice skates come in a variety of styles and sizes to accommodate all types of ice skaters. Four of the most common types of ice skates are; figure ice skates, recreational skates, hockey ice skates and speed ice skates.  

Figure Ice Skates

Beginner skates are normally made from vinyl but professional figure ice skates are usually custom fitted and  made from leather to accommodate the flexibility needed around the skater's ankle.  The blades for these skates extends about an inch or so beyond the back of the bootTheir curved fronts are serrated with toe-picks that enable the skater to perform certain moves.  The overall design of this skate is to allow skaters to more easily perform jumps, spins and other figure skating moves. Skate blades can come either mounted to the skate or sold separately from the skate boot.  You will find that in the higher quality skates blades are custom made so they are sold separately. These skates are expensive and will run several hundred dollars.

Recreational Ice Skates
These are the skates of choice for those who ice skate as a pastime.   
These skates resemble figure skates but they are not as well-constructed and do not have the padding or support that a professional figure skater would require.  You will find that children's recreational skates can be purchased with a double blade for extra balance.  Ice skates for children are fairly reasonable so you must determine whether to buy new or just rent. Kids do grow out of their shoes quickly but if your child is involved in some kind of organized ice skating program, where they are constantly on the ice, you probably want to buy them. If you go every few months it may be worth renting the ice skates.   There are some manufacturers that make adjustable ice skates that sell for around $130 and fit up to 4 sizes of shoes.  This may be an option to ensure you child won't outgrow their skates for a while. The price of recreational skates will vary based on the quality but you should plan on spending a minimum of $40.

Hockey Ice Skates

Ice Hockey skates are designed to withstand the physical demands of this rough sport and are therefore made differently than figure skates. These skates have a boot that angles the foot forward and looks more like an athletic shoe.  They are lighter in weight and provide a lot of padding. Since hockey players are in these skates for long periods of time they are designed to be more comfortable and to provide more support   You will find that they do not have toe picks and the blades, which are flatter and thinner, are permanently attached to the boot.  The blades are about the same length as the boot and are curved front and back to allow a skater better movement.
 

Speed Ice Skates
Speed skates are designed completely different from than any other ice skate and for safety reasons are not recommended for anyone that is not actively involved in this sport. These skates are designed for fast, forward movement.  They are made of lightweight leather or other durable yet flexible materials that allow the foot to move in a natural running position. They have much longer blades, about 16 or 17 inches, that extend well beyond the boot. 

In the 1990s the new the clap skate entered the world of speed skating.  Unlike  traditional skates where the blade is fixed to the boot, the clap skates have the blade attached to the boot by a hinge at the front.  This new clap skate, which allows  the skate blade to detach from the heel while the skater is racing, prevents the tip of the blade from digging into the ice and keeps the blade on the ice for a longer period.  The result is increased pushing power and forward momentum for the skater.