Making sure your skates are properly sharpened can make more of a difference on the ice than you realize. It affects how you turn, stop and the overall control of your skating.
Skates should typically be sharpened after 8-10 hours of use on an indoor rink. This timeframe shrinks when skating outdoors. If you find yourself struggling to skate smoothly or falling down doing a typical skill you’d be comfortable with it is a sign that you may need to get your blades checked. Well maintained blades not only help with performance but can help keep you upright as well.
If you see a reflection in the blade’s edge under a bright light, you need to sharpen your skates. A light touch of the fingernail down the length of the blade can detect any nicks or defects and check its sharpness. However, there is such a thing as sharpening your skates too often which can wear out the blade earlier than its typical lifespan.
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Ice in backyard or outdoor rinks can gather dirt quickly or have it frozen into the surface. This makes the ice abrasive and potentially dangerous. This dirt and debris will dull blades faster than when skating indoors. Outdoor ice is typically harder than indoor ice and can wear your blades down quicker. This is why it’s so important to wipe down your blades and inspect their condition after each outdoor (and indoor!) rink session.
If you find yourself needing to sharpen your skates the service is available at most rink pro shops as well as sporting good stores. While there are tools you can throw in your hockey bag to sharpen your skates, they are best used for a touchup and not as a longer-term solution. It’s best to take your skates to a trained sharpener who uses the proper equipment.
Some skaters prefer different levels of dullness and it may take some getting used to find what you’re comfortable with. Beginner skaters may not need to sharpen their blades as often as those making a lot of stops and cuts.
Of course, no matter the ice surface, always use skate guards to protect yourself and the blades. The skate guards should also be cleaned with regularity as they can gather dirt just like the blades.
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