Colin Loughlin

Types of Ice Skates

With sports such as ice hockey and ice skating being one of the most popular forms of entertainment all around the globe, ice skates are nothing new to the average individual.

Boots having blades attached to the bottom and used to propel a person across the sheet of ice is called ice skates. There is a crescent shaped hollow creating two sharp edges on the bottom of the ice skate. The depth of this hollow (Radius of Hollow) varies with the ability, strength, weight and activity of the skater as well as the type of sporting activity and style of play.

Some skates like speed skates and touring skates that do not have a hollow bottom, have an efficient glide but it cannot cut ice effectively.

There are different types of ice skates:

Figure skates: This type of ice skates is specifically used in figure skating. Figure skates are leather boots with steel hollow ground blades extending an inch past the boot and small heel. In front of the blade there are toe-picks made of aluminum or steel. Toe-picks are used for certain jumps like ‘toe loop’, ‘Lutz jump’. Several layers of leathers are used to make figure skating boots. The stiff layers of leather provide ankle support to the skater. There are also vinyl boots for the beginners that are cheaper than leather. Recreational ice skates may appear like figure skates but they do not have the padding or support required for figure skating. These skates are made for those who simply skate for pleasure.

Hockey Skates: Ice hockey players mainly use this type of ice skates. These are made of synthetic leather, molded plastic or ballistic nylon. Hockey skates look like athletics shoes that angle the feet forward. The blades are almost as long as the boot and curved at front and back. This is to allow the player comfortable movement on all sides. The skates must be strong and durable to withstand the battering from hockey sticks, pucks and other players’ skates. Ice hockey players have their skates on for longer periods than figure skaters. Hence the ice hockey skates are padded and designed to give the comfort and support akin to the best ‘running’ shoes. The goaltenders of ice hockey use a special type of hockey skates- ‘Goalie skates.’ The ankle of such ice skates is lower than hockey skates to let the boot remain closer to ice. The boot is protected by hardened plastic. The blade is generally longer with a low curvature that helps in easy side-wise movement.

Bandy Skates: This type of ice skates are used for playing rink bandy and bandy. The boot is lower than hockey skates and made of synthetic leather. The blade is also a little longer than ice hockey skates to achieve and maintain higher speeds. Design of bandy skates are such that it does not injure the players.

Speed Skates: Speed ice skates are also called racing skates. These are completely different from figure skating and recreational skates. The design is to maximize speed while driving forward. The blades of such skates are longer than the boot and flat in shape to help glide forward. The type of speed skates where skate blade detaches from the heel to aid forward momentum when the skater is skating is called ‘slap blade.’ The boots of speed skates are made of lightweight leather or any such flexible material that allows foot movement during skating.

Touring Skates: The long blades that can be attached by bindings to hiking or cross-country ski boots are called touring skates. Such ice skates have long blades with a flat cross section making it stable. Such ice skates are mainly used to walk between lakes and non-skating sections. These are mainly used by mountaineers and trekkers and for non-competitive touring. The blades, which can be easily removed from the shoes when not in use, makes them particularly useful to the owner.

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