There are many reasons why a figure skater should take good care of their skates and try to prolong the time until they have to buy the next pair.
Whether you purchased them at the beginning of the training season, saved up for months to buy a new pair or begged your family for them as a Christmas or birthday present, nobody can deny that figure skates have a hefty price tag. A good pair can set you back up to $1500 if you are not lucky to get free sponsored skates from a popular brand. Furthermore, training 5-6 days a week, several hours per day, you spend a lot of time in your skates, and breaking in a new pair can be a painful process. On top of that, a good fit and sharp blades will help you prevent injury.
As we can see, figure skates are by far a skater’s most important equipment and to keep them in perfect competition and training shape there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
1 Always wear skate guards off the ice
Every time you step off the ice, you have to put on skate guards to protect the blade. This will prevent them from getting any nicks that might affect your performance later and is an important part of taking care of your figure skates. Even if there is padding on the floor, the hard guards need to be put on, because there could be stones or other objects that can cause damage. You should also always check your skate guards before putting them on. Tiny objects can get stuck inside of them which can also damage the metal.
If there are tiny spots or holes at the bottom of your guards, you need to replace them.
2 Dry your Skates immediately after training & put on Soakers
Besides nicks to the blade, another cause of damage can be rust. Rust is caused by water being left behind on the skates. When you get back to the locker room after training, you cannot leave the skate guards on your skates. Instead, take them off and wipe down the blade with a towel or chamois. Do not forget to dry the entire blade, every inch and nook, as well as the soles. Make sure to wait a little bit until they have warmed up to room temperature. (The difference in temperature will cause condensation and more water will form on the blades.)
Be careful though, because the blade is very sharp and it is easy to hurt yourself!
Finally, put on soakers. Some people leave them on until their next training session, others take them off at home once the skates have completely warmed up to room temperature. Overall, it is probably best if you do not keep your blades in a damp soaker until your next session.
Buy this soaker from Amazon!
3 Store them at room temperature
Your skates have been moulded to your feet, so leaving them out in the heat or the cold winter can damage their form. Do not leave them in the car when you get home from training or in a damp environment in your basement. (see number 2 for what humidity can do to your blades)
4 Air out your Skates
More importantly, you should air out your skates once you get home. After spending several hours per training day in them, they can start to smell bad. A lot of moisture gets trapped in them, which can result in some uncomfortable moments when you take them off in the locker room. Taking care of your figure skates also includes trying to keep them as odourless as possible for as long as possible.
It can help to untie the laces once you are home and move the tongue all the way out. Then just let them air out until the next morning (or put them in front of a ventilator for some extra drying power.)
5 Use Foot Deodorant or Foot Powder
If you want to freshen up your skates in between session, a good foot spray can go a long way. If you are skating barefoot you might also want to try a foot powder that helps with any moisture building up. (for example Dr. Scholls Original ) If you feel like your skates do not get dry overnight, try stuffing them with silica gel bags. You can find them in every handbag and mass-buy them from eBay. Just put them in a sock and leave the socks in your skates. If it isn’t too hot outside, putting your skates out in the sun to air out might also help with any smell.
6 Change Socks between Training Sessions
Do you train more than once per day? Then you should change your socks after each session. Always keep a couple of extra pairs in your skating bag. This way you give your skates a chance to dry off as much as they can before you start your next session with dry socks. Make sure that they are cotton and not nylon socks.
If nothing seems to help with the smell, consider changing the insoles of your skates. (Odour is known to cling to Jacksons more than other brands. However, changing the insoles every now and then might be more reasonable than changing the brand.)
7 Polish the Leather
Your skates are made out of fine leather which can get pretty damaged when the skater jumps or does lunges. A lot of companies sell their own skating polish which can help keep your skates in top shape and water-resistant.
Another way to protect the leather is covering it with skating tape. It looks better than skating covers and is less time consuming once applied.
Sk8tape (buy here or a different brand) does not only protect the leather it will also hide scratches or other damages. Depending on your training intensity, the tape will last up to an entire season and when removed will not leave any residue.
8 Bring extra Laces
Never forget to bring an extra pair of laces (or two) with you. Check your laces for any damage and if you see a rip it is probably time to replace them. You do not want them to break into two pieces during a competition or test. Most people prefer cotton laces over the nylon ones because they are less likely to stretch out.
It is also good advice not to change them out right before a competition. Newer laces can make your boots feel different on your feet and it would be an inconvenient time to discover this right before you take the ice.
9 Get your Blades sharpened regularly
Lastly, it is advised to get your blades sharpened roughly every 30 hours of skating in them. (Different numbers can be found on the internet, ranging from 20 hours to 40 hours.) Ask your coach how they want it sharpened and always go to a professional sharpener for figure skates. (Sharpening figure skates is very different from hockey skates and can differ from person to person.)
If it is possible, you should always go to the same sharpener, so the quality will stay consistent.
During the process, you should also make sure that the screws connecting the blades to the soles are correctly tightened. Leather soles need extra care compared to soles made out of artificial material. Before every sharpening, apply SNO-seal. Use a hair dryer to warm it on your soles and then leave it for a couple of minutes to absorb. Wipe down any excess with a clean and dry cloth.
Following these tips will make sure that your skates will last you for a long time! Taking care of your figure skates should be an essential part of your training day. If you want to print our guide as a reminder to keep in your skating bag, locker, or at home – download one of the files below.