Skate Boots

Within a very broad spectrum, as a beginner, it doesn't matter what boots that you have, provided that they are comfortable and fit well. They should be snug in the heels and support the ankles firmly. The most common type of injury in the early stages of skating comes from ankles caving in. Good boots will help your skater to feel confident and help your skating. Bad boot may hinder skating but only by a very small margin. Provided that you aren't in pain and are well supported and comfortable, practice and effort will make a greater difference.

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Selecting a New Boot:

Intermediate and advanced boots and blades are sold separately and mounted by the skate shop. Beginner boots may be sold as one unit. Try to avoid those that have the blades riveted to or molded into a plastic sole. For adults, the boot should fit snuggly on your feet so the tips of your toes just brush or can stretch to reach the toe of the boot. Good quality beginner boots are moderately stiff to provide adequate support and the more advanced boots get increasingly stiffer.

The advantages of stiff boots is that they may last many years and provide a good support. their disadvantage is that they have a long and perhaps painful break-in period and they are more expensive. If you buy "too much" skate you may find them virtually impossible to break in. Lighter boots, on the other hand, are more comfortable and break in faster. However, they wear out faster.

Before choosing boots, here is a checklist of some questions to ask yourself. Your next boots are dependent on how you answer these questions:

  1. How much do you enjoy skating? Do you feel that in time you will be skating daily or is it something that you just want to do once a week or so?
  2. How long do you see yourself skating? Do you think that you have found a sport that will keep you happily exercising for the next 20 years?
  3. What are your future expectations? Many skaters who initially can't imagine ever doing a three-turn, progress farther than they ever imagined! What you need to ask is "What are my FANTASIES"? Also, what about ice dance and synchronized skating? Do you have any dreams in those areas?

If you feel that you could easily end up skating every day and you will probably want to skate for the next 20 years and in your deepest darkest heart of hearts, you'd love to skate like Sal?nd Peltier and maybe land a double Salchow, then the cost of your boots will in all likelihood be the LEAST expense that you have to worry about over the next three years. A good boot will probably last that long.

Whatever brand of skating boot that you buy, the most important point is that the boot fits you properly (your foot should be held firmly by the boot) and show first class workmanship. whey trying on boots, wear the same socks/tights that you will skate in. thick socks are not a good idea as they will allow the foot to move in the skate.

The construction of the boot tongue is also important since a relatively stiff padded tongue will stay in place and it keeps the pressure of individual laces injuring your feet. Some tongues have a padded lambs wool lining but tongues of higher level skates are generally padded with a foam rubber. the foam rubber should be about 3/8" - 1/2" thick and fairly stiff with small pores.

It is difficult to compare the size of your boot to the size of your shoe because this varies from one manufacturer to another. Ask to be measure by a competent vendor. they should have you sit and put a little pressure on the measuring board. Try on the boot before the blade is mounted. You may have to try on more than one boot before you find one that fits you properly.

Custom fitted boots are not necessary unless your foot/ankle is shaped unusually or as been injured or you require extra support for your weight or you are doing advanced jumps.

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Selecting Used Boots:

First and foremost, the boot must support you. Grasp the boot by the top of the ankle and hold it sideways. If it drops, it will not provide you the ankle support that you need. Don't buy it. Look at the condition of the boot. It should be leather and not plastic or some pseudo leather with a cloth lining. There shouldn't be any cracks or tears in the leather although some creases are fine.

Breaking in Your Boot:

Wear thin socks. You want your socks to slide against the leather. Lace and unlace your skates 3 or 4 times before skating. Skate for short periods of time at first paying special attention to the way that your feet feel and stop if there is chafing or irritation. Never ignore discomfort because it can turn into blisters and infection.

Don't lace your skates to the top at first.

You can get boots "punched out" (stretched) where they're hurting your feet which is in effect customizing them to some degree.

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Maintenance of Your Boot:

Boots can be expensive and deserve care. Be sure to dry the entire sole of your boot off immediately after leaving the ice and don't store them in a closed bag to avoid rust. When not in use, always remove them from the skate bag and leave the skates in the open so that the air can thoroughly dry them, otherwise the leather will start to decay. Scratches and nicks in the boots should be attended to before water penetrates the leather.

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Waterproofing Your Boot:

Waterproofing should be applied to the entire sole before the blades are mounted and reapplied periodically. If leather gets wet and can't dry out, it starts to rot and then will not hold the blade's screws. A variety of types of waterproofing are available at skate shops. Here are a few ideas:

  1. A sole enamel can be used. It comes in black and neutral. Depending on the amount of skating that you do, it may need to be reapplied monthly. It will build up and occasionally must be sanded or scraped off to be reapplied.
  2. A variety of bees wax or similar wax-like products are popular. They are applied then melted in with a hair dryer. Wax must be reapplied more frequently than enamel but is very easy to use. There is no sanding or buildup. After repeated use, the soles may develop a grayish cast.
  3. Another suggestion is polyurethane varnish that has been thinned down so it soaks into the fresh leather. Applied in many thins coats, it is said to require very little follow-up maintenance.
  4. Shoe polish is a very effective water-proofer but must be used very regularly.
  5. It has been mentioned that Harlick applies a waterproofing to new skates at the factory which is very durable.

On white uppers, black streaks can be easily removed with a solvent made for this purpose. Us a buff type liquid polish on white boots. For black boots, use a black liquid or canned shoe polish.

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Replugging the Screw Holes:

Every skater should periodically check the screws that hold the blades on to the boot, especially when the skates are new and make sure that they are tight. If a screw is tight and won't stay tight then water is probably getting inside the screw hold and the leather of the sole itself causing the hole(s) to expand and soften. You should bring your skates to a reputable skate shop and have them take the blades off, sand off the top layer of enamel replug the holes re-coat the soles before putting the blades back on. They should put screws in new holes wherever possible.

Try to avoid repeated removal of the screws. The threads of the holes will strip after a few remove/mount cycles. If this happens, you'll have to use different holes.

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Lacing:

Getting your skates laced properly will enhance your balance and control and make your skates more comfortable. First, loosen your skate completely and place your heel in the rear when tightening the eyelet area up.

Second, you don't have to tighten all areas to the same tightness.

If you have new skates, you don't have to do the top hooks and you can skip the top hole to make them more comfortable and to start a crease in the leather at the ankle.

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