Tuesday
Nov042014

Skate Performance 101

One of the most important things you can do to maximize the performance of a skater is to ensure their skates are sharpened and profiled correctly. Many people assume that it doesn’t matter where you get your skates sharpened or that new blades are perfect right out of the box. Unfortunately, neither statement is true.

When skates are sharpened, the cutting wheel creates a radius on the bottom of the blade, creating 4 edges. An inside edge and an outside edge on each side of the blade. The deeper the radius, the sharper the blade.  For example, a ½” radius is sharper than 5/8”. A sharper blade provides more traction and bite, but also digs deeper and creates more friction. A shallower radius, while providing less bite, allows for increased speed. The key is to find a radius where the player feels confident on their edges and in control for starts, stops and turns.

Consistency is key! The life span of a poorly sharpened blade can be less than half of blades sharpened and maintained properly. If skates are sharpened properly, the edges of the blade are perfectly square across the bottom where they contact the ice. If they are not square, it creates challenges for the skater. It is also important to remove all burrs from the blade edges and bottom. A simple stoning after a sharpen will not accomplish this, often resulting in a player feeling the skates are too sharp after a sharpen.

People often ask how often skates should be sharpened. As a general rule it is about 5 hours on the ice. That said, if a blade comes into contact with hard objects such as steel or concrete, edges can be worn quickly, so it is important to check the skates after each outing.

Profiling a skater’s blades is equally as important as consistent sharpening. A correct profile means better skater control which maximizes performance. Profiling is matching the blades to each other and to the skater. The profile of a blade is the shape of the blade from heel to toe. The shape should be a constant radius surface, providing optimal blade height for proper pitch.

Skates out of the box rarely have a correct profile. Skates should be profiled when purchased, then once per year thereafter, with profile adjustments throughout the year. While sharpening a skate using consistent pressure will not alter the profile significantly, over the course of 10 to 15 sharpens it may change slightly. So it is important to have them checked periodically.  

Precision Blades is Oakville’s only certified Maximum Edge member. Maximum Edge is a patented sharpening and profiling system used by more than 300 professional teams around the world, including all 30 NHL teams. In fact, every Stanley Cup Champion from the past 15 seasons uses the Maximum Edge finishing process. The Maximum Edge process is different! There are more steps to sharpen and finish a blade and we guarantee that they are perfectly square, every time! Again, consistency is paramount and that is what you will receive at a Maximum Edge location!

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