It is important to properly maintain your skate during the season. Regular maintenance helps keep the skater performing optimally and ensures a longer life for the skate.
Tips for skate maintenance:
- Clean skates after each use by wiping with dry cloth and wrapping in Terry Cloth type of material to protect the blade edges. Hard skate guards are to be used when you are walking from the dressing room to the ice surface and return to the dressing room. The skate blades should be covered with the skate booty or similar type of material for 24 hours until the moisture is drawn out of the skate blade. DO NOT STORE THE SKATES IN THE GAURDS. If you keep the plastic skate guards on the blades while they are damp, rust will form and damage the skate blade edges.
- Keep skates sharp. Get your skates sharpened regularly (at least once/month). This can be done by using club equipment or at the Oval Skate Shop. Ask your coach how to get this done.
- If you find that the skates are very uncomfortable then consider heat molding the boots to your feet.
- Checking skate hardware: Before you put on your skates check that all nuts and bolts are tight and that there are no visible signs of deterioration.
- Short track blades are intended for use only on indoor short tracks at practice and sanctioned competitions. Any damage to club blades when used on outdoor natural ice will be the financial responsibility of the skater.
- Generally, look after your skates. These skates are expensive.
Of particular importance when choosing equipment for speed skating is the fit of the equipment. Speed skating is about feeling the ice, therefore it is important the all equipment fits properly. Avoid boots or blades to grow into as this will negatively influence the capacity of the participant to acquire skills. It is also important to properly dry out all equipment between each practice and wash it regularly. CSSA offer skate rentals for beginning skaters, while safety equipment is generally the responsibility of the participant.
When selecting a speed skating boot be sure:
- The boot provides support for the foot and the ankle.
- The boot allows the skater to move their knee as far forward as possible.
- The boot needs to be tight but comfortable without cutting off the skaters’ circulation. If the boot does not fit snugly, or is not properly tied, the skater’s foot will slide around inside the boot and decrease control of the blades.
- Purchase boots that can be heat moulded. This will improve the fit and increase comfort for the participant.
- To dry the leather out slowly if the boots become wet. Drying the boot too quickly will damage the leather.
- To keep spare laces available as they can break at any time. Laces should be kept relatively short so as to avoid tripping over them.
Speed skating blades are quite different than those used for hockey and figure skating, not only are they longer, but they are also flat ground, see illustration. This allows the skater to glide more effectively, but also requires that speed skating blades be sharpened by hand. If speed skates are sharpened using a machine designed for hockey or figure skates it will permanently damage the blades. CSSA holds a skate sharpening clinic several times a year. Please drop into the office to find out more information.
The set-up of the blades for a speed skater is just as important as the boot. For developing skaters maintaining sharp blades with a proper rocker and bend will have the most significant influence on a blade’s performance, far more than the actual quality of the blade. Improper blade set up often limits a participant’s ability to perform a skill, making the sport less enjoyable. Improper blade set-up is the equivalent of not properly inflating the tires on a bicycle.
To properly maintain blades:
- Be sure to fully dry the blades after each use to prevent rust from developing.
- Store the blades in a cotton skate cover, between practices, not in plastic skate guards where condensation will accumulate on the blades and cause them to rust.
- Use a hard-plastic skate guard when going on and off the ice.
- Sharpen the blades regularly. It is best to sharpen quickly on a regular basis rather than an occasional long sharpening job.
- Check the edge of the blade with a finger nail to check for sharpness and burr. If you are able to scrape some of your nail, the blade does not need to be sharpened. When checking for burr, you want to be able to scrape your fingernail upwards on the side of the blade without catching it on a piece metal.
- Have the rocker and bend on skates checked at least twice (beginning and mid-season) per season by a club coach or equipment person.
Speedskaters wear tight fitting suits called Skins to reduce air resistance and provide protective padding. These are available for rental from the uniform chair.
Putting on your Skin
Begin by holding each leg of the suit near the bottom of the leg and work each foot, one at a time, into the suit. We realize it’s much easier to hold the suit by the waist and just jump in with both feet, but we don’t advise it. Also don’t rely on the zipper-pull alone to close up suit. Use one hand to close the suit above the zipper-pull so it closes easier when you pull the zipper up. In the long run, this will prevent stretching of zipper teeth and prolong life of zipper. Hold the bottom of the zipper when you remove the skinsuit to prevent stretching. TAKE YOUR TIME.
Keeping your skinsuits looking good and functioning at their best requires specific care and maintenance. Washing is the first area of concern. Do it correctly and it will preserve the garment. More frequent washing is better than less frequent. Body sweat contains acids, oils, and bacteria and can be quite corrosive and will eventually attack the fabric. Hand washing in lukewarm water with a mild soap or detergent is about the safest washing method for most skinsuits. Five minutes in the sink will do the trick. DO NOT wring the garment. You can roll the garment in large towel and squeeze roll allowing as much moisture to transfer onto towel. Dry time should be reduced to half the time. If machine washing is preferred, use gentle cycle with mild soap. The garment should be zipped up and turned inside out, prior to being placed into the washer. The spin cycle of the machine should be enough to rid excess water and then hang in the shower to dry. The life of most skinsuits will be prolonged if you avoid hot/warm machine drying, unless your dryer has a no-heat setting. Too much heat over time will breakdown the stretching fibers.