So you just received a new pair of figure skates and understandably have some questions about the sharpening process. Skating on dull blades can not only be very annoying, but even potentially dangerous. It’s important you keep your figure skates nice and sharp to avoid damaging the skate and to avoid injury.
Let’s get into some of the most common questions asked when it comes to sharpening your figure skates!
Do new figure skates come sharpened?
It’s understandable you may expect your new pair of figure skates to come sharpened and ready to hit the ice right out of the box, but, this isn’t always the case.
New figure skates come with a “factory sharpening” which isn’t always great. It is common practice to take a new pair of figure skates and have them touched up by a professional sharpener.
If possible, ask other figure skaters or coaches where to get your blades sharpened. Everyday hockey skate sharpening places are not recommended, hockey skate blades and figure skate blades are very different and require a different type of sharpening. Inexperienced figure skate sharpeners can ruin your blades.
Do figure skates need to be sharpened?
Sharpening your figure skates is something you need to do. Allowing your blades to become too dull can not only lead to developing bad habits on the ice by compensating, but it can lead to injuries as well.
Trust me, I know the feeling of getting used to skating on dull blades, you think it’s comfortable and don’t really feel the need to get your blades touched up.
The thing is, when you let your blades dull and get used to that feeling, you are subconsciously learning how to compensate and causing yourself to develop bad habits rather than learning a skill correctly. Eventually, when you do get your figure skates sharpened, you will realize just how different it is and be forced to reteach yourself much of what you just spent so much time learning.
To avoid this, if you feel your blades are starting to lose their edge, just go get them sharpened.
How often should you sharpen figure skates?
There is a lot of misleading misinformation out there when it comes to how often you should be getting your figure skates sharpened.
To maintain the quality of your blades, it is best practice to have your figure skates sharpened after 20-30 hours of use. If you skate for 2 hours a day, 3 days a week, then you should be getting your figure skates sharpened every 3-5 weeks.
What you do on the ice between sharpening can also play a factor. If you spend an entire session working on triple axels you are going to wear your blades out far sooner than you would working on 3 turns.
Where to get figure skates sharpened
When first starting out in figure skating, many people end up taking their brand-new figure skates to a hockey sharpener and more times than not, the hockey sharpener will ruin your blade. Not because they are doing it on purpose, but because hockey skates and figure skates require a much different type of sharpening.
It is important that you always get your figure skates sharpened by a professional figure skate sharpener. If you don’t know of any in your area, ask fellow figure skaters or coaches around your rink, they will point you in the right direction.
I can not stress this enough, do not get your figure skates sharpened by a hockey skate sharpening service. I’ve seen too many blades that have been ruined this way.
How to tell if your figure skates need sharpening
A common question I come across is people asking how they are supposed to tell if their blades need sharpening. Here are four things you can look out for:
If you find yourself starting to have a hard time with your control or skidding into your spins, this is a telling sign that it is time to sharpen your blades.
If you start feeling as if you are no longer gripping into the ice as you make a turn or go around an edge, that is another good indication that your figure skates need sharpening.
If you start noticing little deposits along your blades, it is a good idea to get your skates sharpened. Deposits are usually formed by leaving your blade guards on while you store them, water gets trapped between the blade guard and the blade forming little rust deposits that will eventually form into rust.
4. The finger nail test
Run your finger nail along the edges of your blades. If your finger nail slides smoothly, this is a telling sign that your edges are not sharp, and you should have them redone.
Should you skate on dull blades?
Listen, I get it, you can become very comfortable skating on dullish blades, but that doesn’t mean you should be doing it.
You should avoid skating on dull blades. Skating on dull blades can lead to over compensation when learning new skills. Further, dull figure skate blades will have a harder time gripping into the ice, increasing the chance of you injuring yourself.
Having a proper skate sharpening schedule is important, this way you can avoid skating on dull blades altogether, eliminating the risk of running into any of the issues associated with it.
How many times can you sharpen figure skates?
The amount of times you are able to sharpen a pair of figure skates before you are forced to replace the blades depends on the sharpener and which type of machine they are using.
If the person sharpening your blades has a heavy hand and an aggressive sharpening wheel, your blades could need replacing in as little as 10-15 sharpenings. Whereas, if the person sharpening your blades has a light touch and is using a soft wheel, blades can typically last up to 50 sharpenings.
This is why it’s important you find a good, reliable skate sharpening professional and establish a relationship with them, as it can save you so much money in the long run.
It’s very important you keep up with regular sharpening of your figure skates to not only improve your ability on the ice, but to also maintain the quality and longevity of your blades.
If you don’t know where to get your figure skates sharpened, don’t be afraid to ask someone. Getting your skates improperly sharpened can damage the blades and force you to spend more money on a new pair much sooner.
Now, go sharpen those blades and hit the ice!