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ICE SKATING BLADES
Ice skating blades vary across skating disciplines. Speed skating, ice hockey, figure skating or ice dancing blades highlight certain aspects of skating skills important for a particular activity.
a. Speed skating blades. Ice skating blades for speed skating are designed for speedy gliding in one direction. These blades are made long (40-48 cm) in order to extend the stride of the skater and increase skating stability. This type of ice skating blades is composed of two constructive parts: a metal tube (attached to the boot) and a runner (contacting the ice). The tubes and runners are typically made from either aluminum or hard steel. Sometimes different materials are used for the tubes and runners in order to improve their speed and durability characteristics. The speed ice skating blades are characterized with a very small curve. Speed ice skating blades are sharpened flat with a 90 degree angle for a longer glide.
b. Ice hockey blades.Ice hockey skates come with ice skating blades already riveted to the bottom of hockey boots. These ice skating blades are short, rounded on both sides and do not protrude beyond the boot length to ensure maneuverability and prevent catching other players’ skates. The hockey ice skating blades have two constituent parts: a metal runner and a plastic holder (in which the runner is inserted). Hockey blades are designed to withstand strong impacts and collisions. The holder is usually made of hard impact-resistant grade of plastic. In search of a compromise between lightness and durability hockey blade producers sometimes make holes in the holder to reduce its weight. Runners are usually made of stainless or carbon steel depending on the price category. Professional hockey blades are hollow ground so the skating is done on outer edges for more control.
c. Figure skating blades. In contrast to speed skating or ice hockey, the essence of figure skating consists in performance of complex series of movements on ice. To serve that purpose, the structure of figure skates and, in particular, figure skating blades, is specially developed to make them suitable for spinning and jumps. The most distinctive feature of the figure skating blades are toe picks located at the front of a blade. Toe picks look like a row of sharp teeth and serve for pushing-off when jumping. Another defining characteristic of the figure skating blades is their sharpening technique. A hollow is ground in the surface of ice skating blades leaving two pronounced outer edges. These edges come in contact with ice surface allowing for better control of movements. The depth of the hollow and the rocker radius of figure skating blades vary according to the proficiency and taste of the skater. Figure skating blades are made of stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum or titanium depending on their price, quality and a skater´s requirements.
d. Ice dancing blades. Dancing is all about self-expression through complex movements. Though similar to figures skating blades in structure, ice dancing blades have some essential differences to match the dancing demands. The tail of these ice skating blades is shortened to prevent the partners from stepping or tripping over the blades while performing. The toe picks are smaller and that complicates toe jumping while facilitating edge work. The rocker of ice dancing blades is typically more curved than that of the figure skating blades which results in a better control of the ice and maneuverability. Dancing blades are usually made thinner than figure skating blades to provide for faster edge transfer.
Apart from the skating disciplines ice skating blades are different in terms of their brand, quality, price and proficiency level they are intended for. It is therefore advisable to consult your coach before you start shopping for your perfect ice skating blades.