Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What to Know About Unsharpened Skates?

Skaters often put off getting their skates sharpened for a variety of reasons. These include the fact that a poor sharpening can ruin the blades; the blade will feel different after sharpening, even with a good sharpening; sharpening reduces the lifespan of the blade, leading to more frequent purchases of blades; and sharpening often requires skaters to give up their skates for a period of time, even if just for an afternoon. While it is technically possible to skate on dull skates, sharpened skates make skating safer and more enjoyable. Whether you're wearing hockey, figure or speed skates, maintain your blades by sharpening them regularly and properly.
Dangers of Skating on Dull Skates
Dull skates are neither effective nor safe. Skates that have not been recently sharpened do not go as fast as sharp skates, meaning that casual skaters can become frustrated and serious athletes cannot preform to their full potential. If a figure skater cannot get proper speed, she may fall when attempting jumps or other tricks. Dull hockey and figure skates can "lose an edge," which can cause the skater to fall.
Sharpening Hockey Skates
Hockey players need to maintain both speed and balance, so it's important that they sharpen their skates regularly. Since sharpening requires specialty equipment, most hockey players have their skates sharpened by a professional. A single hockey skate has two blade edges separated by a groove called a hollow. The skates are sharpened with a rotating grinding wheel that grinds between the two blades to form the hollow. A grinding wheel with a smaller radius makes the hollow more pronounced, which makes skates sharper. The ideal hollow size is different for each player, though the standard grinding wheel radius for amateur players is a half-inch. Once players have found a perfect hollow, their skates should be sharpened after every 10 to 15 hours of ice time.
Sharpening Figure Skates
Figure skates generally have longer blades than hockey skates and also feature a toe pick at the front of each blade. Like hockey skates, figure skates are sharpened with a grinding wheel that forms a hollow. As skates get repeatedly sharpened over time, the blades will be ground down and will no longer be even with the toe pick. The toe picks need to be ground a small amount periodically so that they stay level with the rest of the blade; otherwise the skater will feel off-balance.
Sharpening Speed Skates
Unlike hockey and figure skates, speed skates have a flat blade, so there is no need to create a hollow. Rather than using a rotary grinder, speed skates are sharpened with a flat sharpening stone. Without the need of specialized motorized equipment, most speed skaters sharpen their own skates. Since a sharp blade is essential for maximum speed, speed skate sharpening is a precise process that must be performed on a regular basis.

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