So much about skating can feel out of control. From competition skating order picked at random to scheduling when you can skate, it can all seem a little chaotic. Skate Sharpening is one thing some skaters have taken control of. We have a tip for you to gain control, too.
First let’s meet some skaters that sharpen their own skates. While being interviewed, they all brought up the same word: “confidence”. Knowing about their equipment gave them confidence.
“If there’s ever anything that feels not quite good enough, I can always go back and fix it for myself, without having to try to explain it. It allows me to have confidence in my skates.”
Kristina Levitina, US Figure Skating two-time collegiate medalist.
For some, the skate sharpening skill becomes their job. Lyndon Johnston, two-time Olympian for Canada was his club’s Skate Tech, regularly sharpening skates for everyone in his large club. They even brought their sharpener machine along to sharpen at competitions. Lyndon admits:
“Yes, 1988 World championships, besides our own we did about 30 other competitor’s skates and at 1988 Olympics, I would guess to have done at least a dozen competitors as well. Other sports in the Olympic Village heard about this and were very shocked, it did not matter the country, we did Russians, Americans, Canadians, Polish, Czech… A good sharpener does their best every time; not only for themselves. Honestly, we brought the sharpening machine to give us more control.”
Excuse this interjection by the author; I will admit as a skater myself, wanting both confidence and work. I learned from the late & very great Neal Wood. He taught me well the basics of a good skater sharpening and solid advice; like a well-done dance… it takes practice. He set me up to do 500 pair of rental skates at the University of Delaware before I did my own skates for the first time. Knowing about my equipment has been key part of all the success I achieved.
Hyaat Aldahwi competed for both the US and Iraq, she too notes sharpening has helped her:
“As a skater and sharpener, it really opened my eyes to being informed on what you should know about your blades and I wish I knew that from when I was younger.”
Now for the tip, every skater can gain confidence by knowing their own preferred Radius of Hollow, often simply asked “What Radius do you want?” The Radius is the blade’s groove that makes your edges and is noted by a specific number, in the US it is commonly expressed by fraction of an inch.
- Freestyle skaters often get between 5/8” and 1/2”.
- Smaller statue or an aggressive skater wanting more grip/bite ask for 7/16”
- Dancers often go deeper and especially if blades are thinner, asking for 3/8”.
- Blades with Jackson’s advanced “Taper” feature often find that going shallower than they are used to with parallel blades will provide the same feeling. For example if parallel blade Radius was 7/16”, a Tapered blade sharpening with a Radius of 1/2” gives the same feel.
This is an easy explanation:
- Shallower Hollow = Less Bite, Increased Glide
- Deeper Hollow = More Bite, Less Glide
Written by: Mark Ladwig