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Ice Skating

How to care for and maintain ice skates

Ice Skating

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Importance of skate maintenance

It is important to maintain your skates correctly in order to maximize the functionality of your skates, to maintain comfort and to avoid injury.  Good skates are a very expensive investment and if they are not carefully maintained they will deteriorate in a very short period of time. Taking care of your skates is one of the most important things a skater can do.

Caring for blades...

It is necessary to keep the blades of your skates sharp.  Remember that your blades are your only contact with the ice and a sharp blade will grab the ice better than a dull one.  If you start to slide uncomfortably when you land then your blades are not sharp enough.   So plan on keeping a log to help figure out how many hours you can average between getting the blades sharpened.  You want to find the optimal number of hours on the blades that will keep your skating consistent but will limit sharpening so that you do not wear out the blades.  Most  skaters will go several weeks between having their blades sharpened.

Always use a good technician to sharpen your skates.  For a figure skater a good sharpener will want to know your weight, how you skate and the level of jumps that you do because this will affect the way they sharpen your skates. Never let them use automatic sharpeners on your blades, this is the quickest and most effective way to ruin a pair of blades.  Skates should be sharpened from the front of the rocker to the rear, which is not the entire blade and automatic sharpeners go beyond the length of the rocker, actually ruining the contour by making it progressively smaller.  Sharpening of hockey skates generally should take about 5 minutes a pair. For competition figure skates, expect about fifteen to twenty minutes for a quality sharpening.

Never walk on hard surfaces while wearing your ice skates off the ice or you can quickly ruin the ice skate blades.   Make it a habit to always wear blade guards when walking on your ice skates off the ice.  Blade guards are designed to protect the blade from unnecessary wear and tear. 

Off the ice, the biggest killer of blades is rust so be sure to wipe your ice skate blades dry when you’re finished skating.  Remove "snow" from the blade as soon as you get off the ice and before you put on the guards.  Once you are done for the day they should be wiped with a towel.  Make sure you dry the blade area as well as the mounting surfaces because the screws can rust too. Check the blade screws periodically, they can work loose.   Let the boots warm up at room temperature while you are changing clothes and then wipe them again before putting them in your bag.  Refrain from storing them with the guards on because they will hold moisture and guarantee rust.  It is recommended that you put them in terrycloth blade guards when you store them in your bag to help absorb any remaining moisture and to protect the edges.

Caring for laces...

Replace laces when they start to wear or when the plastic tips (“aglets”) come off the ends.  Keep spare laces with you just in case something happens. There is nothing worse than a broken lace at an inopportune moment, so be prepared.


Caring for boots...

Be sure to wipe off the ice skate boot after skating, and before storing the ice skates away. This will help prevent moisture from getting inside the boot which could potentially damage the leather.  Keep your boots well polished all the time this will help to seal the leather and therefore shed water. This is especially important if you've nicked up the surface and unfinished leather is exposed.

Moisture can get trapped inside the boot from your feet sweating and it can rot out the inside of the boot. Be sure to unlace them and open them up as much as possible when you take them off to let them air out.  It is best to take the skates out of the bag for a while when you get home to help dry them out.   Make sure that you let the boots dry out naturally, don't ever put them near a fire or on a radiator.

How long will skates last...

Most Hockey players will get at least a few years out of their skates if properly cared for. Figure skaters doing double jumps and above might only get six months before a boot breaks down, but blades should last for years.