As you advance your skating abilities, you’ll realize that the sharpness of your skates plays a role in how well you perform. A sharp blade can increase the amount of control you have while turning or stopping, and sharpening your blades correctly can lengthen the life of your skates. Hockey and figure skate sharpening is simply a part of being a skater, and this guide will help you better understand how to sharpen ice skates effectively.
The Importance of Sharpening
Sharpen your skates once, and you’ll quickly realize a difference between dull and sharp blades. The following are a few of the reasons why you should sharpen your skates regularly:
- Better grip: Sharper blades grip the ice better than dull ones. This means a sharp blade can help you stick figure skate landings and make sharper turns.
- Consistent performance: Regularly sharpening your skates allows you to find the sharpness that helps you perform best. Waiting too long, then sharpening your skates can create a dramatic change in the way your skates feel.
- Safer stops: A sharp blade allows you to stop more abruptly, keeping you safe from collisions and other obstacles on the ice.
How to Sharpen Skates
Many skaters opt to have their ice skates sharpened for them. However, if you want to know how to sharpen ice skates at home, these tips will help you understand the basics and stay safe while doing so.
- First, you must place the skates in the sharpening jig. It’s important to place both skates in the same position whenever you sharpen, so you perform the same cut each time. Tighten the blade brackets until the skates are securely in place and parallel to each other.
- Sit with the sharpening jig between your legs.
- Use a flat file to file the blade from toe to heel in a diagonal motion. Be sure the file is always perpendicular to the blade.
- Slide the flat file across a single blade in the same direction roughly 20 times, then perform the same motion in the opposite direction.
- Repeat the process for the other skate.
- Customize your skate blade to suit your skating needs. Grinding a radius into your skate blade can make your edges more or less pronounced, allowing you to hold tighter turns, skate faster or stop more abruptly. Novice skaters typically start with a larger radius, while professionals tend to prefer a smaller radius for tighter turns and solid landings.
- Use your burr stone to clear any metal filings from the blade and wipe the blades with a towel.
Learning how to sharpen figure skates can be difficult, and it’s always recommended to enlist the help of a professional shop during your first attempts.
Avoid These Mistakes When Sharpening Your Skates
When learning how to sharpen hockey skates or figure skates, numerous mistakes are often made. While these errors may not ruin your entire skating experience, they can shorten the life span of your skate and cause safety concerns:
- Sharpening rarely: Sharpening your blades needs to be a regular occurrence. The more often you skate, the more often you’ll need to sharpen your blades. Record how many hours you skate between sharpening sessions, so you’re not caught with dull blades the day of a game or competition.
- Sharpening too often: It’s just as easy to sharpen too often as it is to forget to sharpen when needed. Sharpening at unnecessary times can cause unneeded wear and tear on your blade.
- Sharpening too quickly: You’re probably eager to get on the ice, but sharpening too fast and too hard can create rough spots, burrs and chatter, which can lead to poor performance or injury.
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