A couple of years ago, I had invited someone to test our synthetic ice for a rink they were planning to build. The gentlemen arrived with a pair of vintage circa 1960s skates complete with rusted blades. I thought about calling the Hockey Hall of Fame to see if they were missing a pair. He informed me that he has not skated in a few years and proceeded to take a spin on my demo rink. After 20 minutes of striding and turning, he told me he didn't like it. It's not the same as skating. In contrast, I get others who ask to try the ice for just 15 minutes and don't leave until an hour later because their kids are having so much fun skating.
I've had people of all ages, different skill levels and with all types of skates enjoy skating on our synthetic ice rinks. What I've discovered is that real ice is very forgiving to identify flaws in skate blades and a player's skating ability.
A recent customer commented on their boys' difficulty to perform some skating manoeuvres. Right away I asked for the skates and immediately noticed two problems. Firstly, there was hardly any length of the blade that made contact with ice. The curvature had about a 3" radius at each end meaning that only the middle of the blade was making contact with the ice. I've been told that in a stride (heel to toe push), your blade should make 2 inches of contact with the ice throughout the length of the blade. Secondly, the heel of the blade was shorter than the toe. Their son has been skating uphill on a flat surface.
I used to get my skates sharpened at the same place that sharpened my lawn mower blade. For the past 7 years, our local professional skate sharpener looks after the family. I've spent hours with him to learn about proper balance and achieving that through sharpening techniques. Any new pair of skates that you buy, get them 'profiled'. The height, weight and age of the play is taken into consideration to shape the blades for improved speed and control. After every sharpening, the blades should be the same height, balanced from edge to edge, have the proper radius of hollow and be cleaned of fine steel burs left on the blade from sharpening them.
A correct sharpening will allow you to easily perform skating manoeuvres on synthetic ice and improve your performance in games.
Kids adapt to synthetic ice in about 60 seconds and then you can't get them off it. However, when it comes to skating backwards, they take a moment to find their balance. They cheat backwards skating on real ice. Posture is straight and little muscle is used. Coaches with tell them, 'shoulders over knees, knees over toes to get power in their backward stride or c-cut. Synthetic ice has just enough resistance to reveal skating skill weaknesses like this. Once identified, corrected and practiced over and over again, the players show more power and control in their skating at games and practices.
I invite you to try our ice but one of the first things I'll ask is 'where do you get your skates sharpened"?
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