Ice skates have changed dramatically since ancient Scandinavians first strapped on horse and cow bones to glide across their rivers and canals. They’re a fair bit more expensive now, for one, and slightly modified for different purposes: speed skating, hockey and figure skating. The latter two can be used for general skating on your local rink or pond; figure skates have a longer blade and are more stable, while hockey boots boast stiff extra padding and lining for support, which is better for novice and recreational skaters. If you’re a veteran skater planning to make the most of winter and willing to part with a few more dollars, you can even buy skates with removable blades for easy swap out when one goes dull.
Shopping for ice skates shouldn’t be a complicated process, but several nuances make it tricky to wrap your head around. So, we’ve drawn up a list of tips for selecting skates best suited for your needs.
EXPERT ADVICE ON ICE SKATES
Try to shop at a specialist store if there’s one nearby. This is especially true when finding skates for a child, as a poor fit by someone who doesn’t know the product can cause discomfort or even injury. Coaches and gym teachers can also be sources for advice on what to look for in a skate.
DETERMINE YOUR BOOT SIZE
Ice skate sizes are slightly smaller than your shoe size, so factor that in when selecting. The general rule of thumb is that they’ll be 1 to 1.5 sizes down from what you usually wear. Stand and walk a bit in them; they should be snug but not uncomfortable so, giving support to your ankles without pressing too hard into them.
MORE TO READ
Try out your brand new skates in Alberta’s Lakeland Region.
RESEARCH THE BRANDS
Unless you’re heading for the Olympics or competing for the Stanley Cup, you probably don’t need to skip a mortgage payment to buy a pair of skates. There are plenty of affordable models that will meet your needs and, most importantly, won’t break the bank. Read reviews and ask around among your athletic friends and acquaintances.
Are they for your children? Very young skaters need a bit more support, so consider buying a pair with a wide double rail, as in two blades, to help with the inevitable wobbly ankles. Keep in mind that your child’s feet are still growing, so you might also want to look at adjustable skates, which can be modified for several sizes.
THINK ABOUT RENTING
Many sports shops in your town allow rentals, which is a great way to find a style and brand that is amenable to your needs before you leap into ownership. And if you’re in a warmer region of Alberta, you might not be doing that much skating overall in comparison to the perpetually frozen areas.