How to Choose Ice Skates for Figure Skating

Boots and blades must match skaters' age, ability, and skating level

a young woman looking at an ice skate
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Choosing the best figure skates is a matter of matching the ice skater's age, ability, and skating level to ever-important budgetary considerations. It's important to do your homework before stepping into the store. Here are some ideas for finding a pair the skater will be comfortable with.

Purchase From Knowledgeable Sources

For the best results, skaters should purchase figure skates from a store that deals exclusively with figure skates. If that is not an option, take the time to learn about the many high-quality boots and blades that are available, because you might not get much help at a more generally oriented store.

Consult your coach before purchasing skates. Figure skating coaches may be able to recommend a certain skate for a new figure skater.

Don't Buy Cheap Skates

Low prices might draw some buyers, but when it comes to figure skates, you really do get what you pay for. An unwritten rule in the ice skating world that is passed on to those who are new to the sport is that cheap boot and blade sets sold at sporting goods stores and department stores are not acceptable.

Sometimes good used boots and blades are better than inexpensive, lower-quality new skates. Make sure the boots fit properly and provide support. The blades need to have some "sharpening life" left. Don't be afraid to ask the seller questions about the used boots or blades.

The foot has to fit well in the skating boot, so be sure that the skater's feet are measured carefully. There should be no extra room in the boot, especially in the heel. The boot should "fit like a glove." Understand that good figure skating boots might hurt at first and expect a break-in period.

Recommended Skates for Beginners

Many entry-level figure skates are available for beginning and recreational skaters. Jackson is one of the most popular brands, but many figure skate companies are producing entry-level skates. In recent years, entry-level skates have been manufactured with a soft, comfortable boot. Leather and vinyl boots are also available for beginners.

Remember that entry-level skates and soft-boot ice skates are meant only for recreational skating. Soft-boot skates are not designed for advanced figure skating but can be great for a beginning recreational figure skater because there is no breaking-in period and the skates are comfortable from the start.

Buying Packages and Separately

Boot and blade combination packages are available for beginning and intermediate skaters. When purchasing a boot-blade package, be aware that the boots should be somewhat stiff to give feet and ankles support but flexible enough to break in and feel comfortable.

Until recently, most figure skaters bought boots and blades separately, and that's still true of most advanced skaters. But buying them separately is always an option, even for beginners.

Purchase blades that correspond to your skating level, but don't skimp. As a figure skater masters spins and jumps, the quality of the blade will affect the quality of those spins and jumps. Also, higher quality figure skating blades need to be sharpened less often, and they have better flow on the ice.