How to choose your Skateologist?
The sharpener you choose needs to be a skilled craftsperson with a method that makes the sharpening consistent and with a “feel” for the actual sharpening.
How to deal with your Skateologist?
Once you find a Skateologist you trust, stick with them. Reason being, all machines are different and a blade resharpened on the same machine with minimal metal removal, protecting your blade investment. Each sharpener also has his own touch or feel for the sharpening. They should be willing to discuss any problems that you perceive. If needed have your coach speak with your sharpener and make these decisions.
How do I know when I need my skates sharpened?
Every skater has their own preference as to how sharp they like their skates. If you feel your edge slipping skidding or you are loosing the control you normally have, it is time. If you pay close attention you will be able to judge the timing for sharpening before competitions.
How long should it take to break in newly sharpened skates?
Often skaters with newly sharpened skates are too often seen doing things like dragging their skates sideways on ;the ice, running blocks of wood along their blades, etc., to dull them into skate ability. This is a common symptom of improperly sharpened skates. The correct expectation is that properly sharpened blades should have little or no adjustment period. They should never feel grabby. They should feel more secure. The edge of a well sharpened blade should feel very smooth as a finger is run along the edge. A well-finished blade is less likely to cut.
Are new blades ready to skate on?
Usually figure skates come with a factory sharpening and it has been my observation that this sharpening job is generally of low quality, with unleveled edges and the factory ROH (Radius of Hollow) may or may not be appropriate for the particular skater. You should always sharpen new blades before skating on them or at least have them checked by your skate sharpener.
What is the difference between a dance and freestyle blade?
The tight footwork that dancers do requires a shorter blade. The short heel gives less to get tangled up (step on, lock with our partner’s blades or your own, etc.), with some styles of dance blades being narrower than freestyle. The dance blade doesn’t tend to curve up as quickly on the front, so they are not particularly good for jumps and spins. The toepick is not pronounced as it is on the freestyle blade.
What does the toe pick do?
There are two parts of the toepick, the part that hangs down (the drag pick), and the part that sticks out in front (the master picks). The drag pick is the last thing to leave the ice on an axle. The first thing to touch on a jump landing, and it just touches the ice on most spins. If you rock forward on the blade, you can only go so far before hitting the drag pick. This forward most point is called the : Forward Balance Point”/ When you spin, you are skating on this point, with the drag pick just touching the ice. Because of the drag pick, you cannot skate on the length of blade between the forward balance point to the drag pick.
Is the toe pick ever sharpened?
Yes. You can see that after a blade has been sharpened many times, the profile of the edge should be the same, but closer to the boot. If the drag pick has been left untouched, the drag pick will be at a different relative position than when the blade was new, and the skater’s technique will change to accommodate this. It is therefore desirable to occasionally remove tiny amounts of material from the pick, so that the profile is retained.
Why use guards or soakers on my blades?
The rule of thumb is hard guards should be used only when you need to walk around when not on the ice. Hard guards should not be on the blades any longer than necessary. The blade will start to rust in a very short time when wet with the guards on. Soft guard or soakers should be on the blades anytime the skates are not on your feet. Even though rinks have rubber mats and various other materials around the rink to protect blades from damage-NEVER walk on these materials with your blades. Just the dirt alone will quickly dull your blades.
How long should blades last?
Starting off with a top of the line blade the life span should be as follows. Each sharpening removes only about 0.001″ of metal (a typical piece of paper is about 0.004″ thick) on a resharpening. If there is 0.1″ of sharpenable depth on the blade when new, this means that you might get as many as 100 sharpenings out of a blade. With monthly sharpening’s, this would give a blade lifespan of up to 8 years. Sharpening’s to restore edge level will take off much more metal. So will sharpenings to change radius of hollow. I believe that skaters typically get a much shorter blade life, for various reasons. Still, a careful sharpener can do much to prolong blade life and protect your investment.
What are common sharpening flaws?
While the goals for good sharpening are quite easy to quantify, skate sharpening is a manual operation and as such is very much a “craft”. The flaw seen most often is unleveled edges. If the centerline of the grinder is not aligned with the centerline of the blade, one edge will be higher (and sharper/grabbier) than the other. One edge will grab while the other will feel weak. If the problem is really bad, the blade will pull to the right or left. If the sharpener is not very good, with repeated sharpenings, it is possible that errors will accumulate and show up as uneven rocker. The degree to which this will happen is a measure of the skill or non skill. A particularly heavy hand can alter this curve in one sharpening.
Why does the area behind the toe pick not have a hollow?
This area between the toe pick “drag pick” and the forward balance point is a non-skating zone that does not come in contact with the ice. Most new blades are not sharpened in this area and thus no hollow. Large wheel sharpening machines cannot sharpen in this area without hitting the toe pick (drag pick). Sharpeners with small wheel machines usually start their cutting in this non-skating area and even the pressure as they move along the blade. This is also less likely to cause a flat spot on the blade at the forward balance area.