Getting your figure skates sharpened properly can help you enjoy the sport and help avoid injury. Here’s how to proceed.
Few sports embody grace and power as effectively as figure skating. Often praised for how gentle and graceful it is, figure skating actually requires athletes to have explosive power with a high degree of precision.
Obviously, beyond all the flashy sequins and flowing tassels, the most important piece of gear in any figure skater’s arsenal is the skates. Here are some tips for sharpening your figure skating blades to help you get the edge you need – literally – to perform your best.
1. Stay sharp
Blades that have become dull are more forgiving. Once you’ve been out on your skates for three or four hours, your stops and starts may be less explosive, but you’re less likely to catch an edge if you land slightly off-centre. However, while this may seem like an advantage, keeping your skates as sharp as you can will help you more, because sharper edges will create the most fluid transfer of energy from your leg into the ice. Since so much of figure skating is based on kinetics, ensuring your power is transferred effectively will help you skate faster, launch cleaner and land more smoothly. Keep your skates sharp!
2. Pick an expert
Most sports stores (and even hardware stores!) in Canada can sharpen skates for a nominal fee. However, that doesn’t mean you should trust them with your figure skates. Most shops use automated sharpening machines that are designed to run the entire length of a skate’s blade. On figure skates that means you risk losing your bottom toe pick, which is critical for balance and for many jumps. Your best bet is to find someone in your town that has experience sharpening figure skates, who understands the specifics of what a figure skater needs.
3. Rock on
If you look closely at your figure skate blades, you’ll notice that after your bottom toe pick, the blade is fairly flat for about an inch before it curves toward the heel of the boot. This curve is the rocker and helps you transfer your weight forward and backward. You want someone to focus on sharpening this part of the blade consistently and smoothly. As well, you want to ensure your blade has a hollow down the centre, creating two edges (inside and outside) to help you get the edge you need to dig into the ice as you shift your weight.
4. Take off
Because figure skaters are essentially precision machines, you need skates that match. Sharpening figure skates is not extraordinarily difficult, but it does require specific expertise to make sure you get your blades set up to help you perform as expected and avoid injury. Hopefully these tips for sharpening your figure skating blades will set you up for success both on the ice, and while traveling through the air.