Some time ago I wrote “Figure Skating 101” for the CCSA Newsletter and website to speak to parents and skaters about some of the basics of figure skating. I spoke about ice time, teaching professionals, lessons, equipment, and the support and encouragement skaters needed to progress in this sport. Since I wrote that, I’d promised to continue offering advice to newcomers and returnees alike, answering questions and addressing concerns.

The Basics of Blades:

Figure skates consist of a steel blade attached to a leather supportive boot.

The figure skating blade has several “picks” at its front whose purpose is to anchor spins or assist skaters propelling themselves into jumps. The picks are never used for stopping.

Blades have both an “outside” and “inside” edge that must be sharpened by a specialist before the blades are used for the first time and a “hollow” between the two edges that may be adjusted during the sharpening process for a particular purpose (dance, freestyle, or combination of both).

Blades need a fresh sharpening periodically depending on how often the skater uses them. The period between sharpening can range from 1 month to 3, or even 6 months depending on the frequency of use. If the blade seems to feel as if it is slipping or sliding under the skater and he/she experiences difficulty staying balanced over the blade, it needs sharpening. Always sharpen both blades at the same time even if only one is giving the skater problems.

Walking Around The Rink With Your Skates On:

Blades need to be protected from damage as stepping on any kind of metal or other hard surfaces can strip the sharpening away from the blade on contact. They must also be protected from rust that forms naturally if blades are not wiped down and stored properly between uses.

Hard rubber or plastic “guards” are placed over blades before and after skating to protect the blades while skaters walk on the hard surfaces from their locker rooms or benches to and from the ice surface before and after skating. These guards must be removed as the skater steps onto the ice surface and stored temporarily on the “boards” near the skaters’ entrance to the ice. They should be picked up after skating and placed on the blade as soon as the skater leaves the ice surface and should remain on the blades until the skater removes his/her skates for the trip home. Do not leave the hard rubber or plastic guards on the blades after wiping them down with a soft cloth after each use.

Off-Ice Skate Storage:

Speaking of a soft cloth, “soakers” (made from soft cloth) should be placed on the blades after the skater carefully removes the skates from his/her feet and wipes the blades down to absorb the moisture from the ice surface that accumulates on the blades while skating. Blades should always be stored in these soft-cloth soakers between uses and bags should be left slightly opened, rather than sealed up tight, to allow air circulation around both boots and blades.