Whether you are an Olympic ice skater or are new to the ice, it's important that you know how to take care of your equipment. To help you keep your ice skates sharp all year round, we have compiled some smart tips and tricks from the U.S. Figure Skating team to keep you (and your skates) skating for years to come.
Caring for Your Blades
Your blades are your only contact with the ice, so it's important that you keep them in good working condition so that you can be as effective as possible.. A sharp blade grabs the ice better than a dull one, so you will need to sharpen your blades regularly. If your skates feel like they are sliding on the ice, it may be time to sharpen them. How often you need to sharpen your blades can vary, but wearing skate guards when you are off the ice can protect your blades from getting nicks and gouges.
Between skating sessions, slide your fingers along both sides of the blade to remove snow that has accumulated on the blade. Then, put on your hard guards to grab the hot beverage of your choice before heading back onto the ice. After you are finished skating for the day, wipe your blades with a soft cloth to protect them from rusting.
Caring for Your Boots
The leather of your boots is just as susceptible to water damage as your blades. Keeping your boots well-polished helps to seal the leather and shed water, which helps prevent the boot from developing mildew and rotting. Many boots come with a factory coating to protect the leather soles. If the factory coating has worn, your soles will need additional protection. Treat leather soles and heels with leather protector on a regular basis. Remove the blades every few months and apply the leather protector to the complete sole to prevent the soles from rotting. Don't forget to make sure that the bottom blade screws are tight. Over time, these screws can loosen and allow moisture to come in contact with the sole.
Caring for Your Laces
Treat your laces with care to prevent them from breaking. Replace your laces when they start to wear, lose threads, or the aglets come off the ends. Always keep a spare set of laces in your bag in the event your laces break. When tying your skates, it is important to use the right amount of lace. If the laces are too long, you will have huge loops left over which could become a skating hazard. If your laces are too short, you will have difficultly tying them securely.
When you are finished with your skating session, be sure to wipe down your boots and blades with a soft cloth to prevent your blades from rusting. Don't forget to dry the mounting surfaces too! When packing your skates in a bag, wrap your skates in a terry cloth towel to help draw off any remaining moisture. Never store your blades in hard guards when traveling, as they hold moisture and could cause your blades to rust. When transporting your skates to and from the rink, cover your blades with a cloth blade cover or store in a boot bag.
Storing Your Skates
When you get home, remove the skates from your bag and allow them to air dry. Undo the laces and open your boots wide to protect your skates from developing mildew. Do not dry your skates near a heat source to prevent the leather boots from drying out. When you are packing your skates away for an extended period of time, apply a small amount of oil to your blade before putting the blade cover on. Refrain from storing your skates in basements or cars as the humidity and dampness could damage the leather.
If you are planning to go ice skating this year, let us know in the comments below.