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At Skate Doctor, we believe that our services are built on a solid foundation of education and communication. Our Blog posts provide you with a deeper look at the services we provide, additional information on options available to you and a pulse-check on the latest happenings in the industry. Check back regularly for updates, or follow our Social Media accounts for notifications when we add something new. 

Topics:
1. The Mid-Season Squeeze (Skate Stretching) (Added 01/08/2015)
2. Leveling the Playing Field (Skate Blade Edges) (Added 01/16/2015)
3. Do You Believe in Magic? ("Magic" Sticks) (Added 01/24/2015)
4. Profiling the Profile (Skate Blade Profiling) (Added 01/25/2015)
5. That Smell (Skate Odor & Care) (Added 01/31/2015)
6. If the Boot Fits (New or Used Skates) (Added 08/08/2015)
7. Time to Square Up (Skate Holder and Blade Alignment) (Added 08/20/2015)
8. It Fits Like A Glove (Custom Skates) (Added 01/15/2016)
9. Lost and Found (Lost Edges) (Added 04/05/2016)
10. Ouch, That Hurts! (Improper Skate Fit) (Added 05/15/2016)
11. Not All Sharpening is Equal (The Skate Doctor Difference) (Added 07/28/2017)

Not All Sharpening is Equal (The Skate Doctor Difference)

posted Jul 28, 2017, 12:45 PM by Skate Doctor   [ updated Jul 28, 2017, 12:47 PM ]

When you get your skates sharpened, a pattern or "hollow" is ground into the bottom of your skate blade. The two main types of skate sharpening are traditional/conventional radius of hollow (ROH) or Flat Bottom V (FBV). Both of these shapes can have different depths, which give you more bite or more glide on the ice.

Traditional/conventional radius of hollow (ROH) on the left, and Flat Bottom V (FBV) on the right.

In order to turn, stop, accelerate and use your skates to their full potential, the edges ground into your skates during sharpening must be even and smooth! You'd be surprised how many skates are sharpened incorrectly with horribly uneven edges. This is usually a combination of improperly configured equipment, inexperienced operators, bent skate blades, lack of attention or a skate technician who simply doesn't care. Even a small degree of error can lead to a miserable time on the ice. When we put our edge-checker on your blade, we want it to be perfectly level on both sides of the gauge. If the gauge is tilted on either side, your skate is not sharpened properly!

Uneven (improperly sharpened) edges at left, and even (properly sharpened) edges at right.
See the difference?

 Some of the symptoms of a poor sharpening include:

  • Uneven edges
  • Ripples, pause marks, streaking or burns on the blade finish
  • Changes to the shape (or profile) of the blade
  • Difficulty stopping or turning in one or both directions
  • Inability to turn in one direction
  • Feeling like your skates are "slipping out" from under you
We always sharpen your skates with even edges, but can increase (from 1/2" to 3/8", for example) or decrease (from 1/2" to 5/8", for example) the hollow depth of your grind to give you more or less “bite” on the ice. In the end, you still have perfectly even edges, but they're more or less aggressive.

Feel free to ask to see our edge checker on your skates before and/or after sharpening - we want you to know that we've done our job (or how your skates looked from your previous sharpening)! That's why our experience and process leads to a better, consistent sharpening every time.

A “lost edge” is most noticeable during a tight turn or crossovers, but may be felt during acceleration or stopping, depending on the severity. You may feel that your blade edge has become slippery, you have no grip on the ice, and that your skate is sliding out from under you.

A lost edge can occur at any level, to any player and at any time. Yes, even the professionals loose edges. But, what causes a lost edge? The causes are varied and extensive, but can include:

  • Stepping on a stick, cement, arena flooring, or other foreign material
  • Colliding with the boards, a goal post, or another player’s skate blade
  • An uneven or poorly finished skate sharpening

We do not sell or promote the use of the Edge Fixer or Magic stick – reasons why are outlined in our Magic Stick blog post. IF you find yourself using one of these “emergency” tools, be sure to get your skates properly sharpened immediately after the ice time. Please remember that these tools are NOT substitute for regular skate sharpening and can damage your blades with repeated use.

We also recommend using skate guards on your skates when not in use, and while walking on hard arena flooring. Due to the nature of the game, no one can guarantee that you won’t ever lose an edge, but Skate Doctor takes all measures to ensure that our sharpening is consistent and level to minimize your risk. Come see us today to get an edge on your competition!

Ouch, That Hurts! (Improper Skate Fit)

posted May 15, 2016, 11:54 AM by Skate Doctor   [ updated May 15, 2016, 12:11 PM ]

Believe it or not, your skates don’t have to hurt your feet. Shocking! If you’ve been regularly following our blog, you’ll know that there are many different brands, models and fits of skates available at the retail level. At the elite level, skates are also available in custom sizes and fits for ultimate performance, comfort and protection.


If your skates are hurting your feet, you’re most likely in the wrong size (length, width or depth) or the wrong model of skate all together. It’s as simple as that. When a customer comes to us with skate pain issues, it’s usually very clear to us as to what is causing the problem. In many cases, the skater has been incorrectly fit by someone who has not taken the time to do a proper fit assessment or foot analysis, or lacks the knowledge and experience to do this. Some skate fitters will even blindly recommend a certain brand or model of skate based on their personal preference or various retail incentives available to them.


In some cases, there are minor modifications we can do to make your skate fit better and hurt less. This includes insoles, stretching, punching, heat fitting, lacing modifications, and more. Skate Doctor is able to perform most of these “fine-tuning” services on a walk-in basis with little to no wait, starting from $5 to $50. It is often possible to make a skate fit a bit larger, but making a skate fit smaller (while maintaining proper skating performance) is much more difficult, if not impossible. Getting the correct skate sizing in the first place is key!

Some issues are not as straightforward or easy to fix and may require a different size, brand or fit of skate. In some cases, the natural shape of your foot or the biomechanics behind your stance, gait or stride requires a custom solution or skate. The following symptoms are indicative of more serious fit problems:
  • Numbness, tingling or freezing feet.
  • Blisters, pressure sores, or black or ingrown toe nails.
  • Heel spurs, bone spurs, heel slippage/movement or lacebite.
  • Improper alignment (over-pronation or over-supination).
  • Arch, ankle, shin, knee, hip or back pain.
Through our many years of experience with skates and custom skate fitting, we’ve learned to identify, fix or recommend different solutions to get you skating pain-free. You can trust our knowledge to get you back on the ice and performing at your best. Contact us to discuss your skate issues, or stop in to visit us at the shop.

Don’t struggle with ill-fitting skates anymore. If you require custom skates, we are an Authorized Dealer and Pro Fitter for VH Footwear custom player and goaltender skates. We’ve worked with countless players, up to and including the pros (NHL, AHL, ECHL, KHL, Europe, CIS) with very positive results. Try on a fit sample or take them for a spin on the ice (during select times only) before ordering your custom pair!

Lost and Found (Lost Edges)

posted Apr 5, 2016, 8:51 AM by Skate Doctor   [ updated Jun 27, 2016, 5:19 PM ]

“Doc, I lost an edge!”

I think the saying goes “[It] happens…” and when it does, it’s really frustrating. You step on the ice for warm-up, or are in the middle of a game or practice and all the sudden you don’t have any “grip” on the inside or outside edge of your skate blade. Dang!

A “lost edge” is most noticeable during a tight turn or crossovers, but may be felt during acceleration or stopping, depending on the severity. You may feel that your blade edge has become slippery, you have no grip on the ice, and that your skate is sliding out from under you.

If this has happened to you, don’t worry you’re not alone. A lost edge can occur at any level, to any player and at any time. Yes, even the professionals loose edges. But, what causes a lost edge? The causes are varied and extensive, but can include:
  • Stepping on a stick, cement, arena flooring, or other foreign material
  • Colliding with the boards, a goal post, or another player’s skate blade
  • An uneven or poorly finished skate sharpening

Most of the causes listed above are self-explanatory – an off-ice or on-ice event with something or someone results in a lost edge. But, a skate sharpening can also lead to a lost edge if not done properly.

To fix a lost edge we will assess the damage to determine whether to simply perform a normal skate sharpening, or if we need to cross-grind the blade to remove the damage. The damage from a lost edge is repairable in nearly all cases.

Fixing a lost edge during a practice or a game becomes a little trickier. Unless you have access to an Equipment Manager or skate sharpener, there may be little that you can do to remedy the situation and get back on the ice. You can try:

  • Honing the skate blade with a normal, flat honing stone to remove the burr
  • Installing replacement/spare steel
  • Using a Edge Fixer / or Magic Stick

We do not condone the use of the Edge Fixer or Magic stick – reasons why are outlined in our Magic Stick blog post. IF you find yourself using one of these “emergency” tools, be sure to get your skates properly sharpened immediately after the ice time. Please remember that these tools are NOT substitute for regular skate sharpening and can damage your blades with repeated use.

We also recommend using skate guards on your skates when not in use, and while walking on hard arena flooring. Due to the nature of the game, no one can guarantee that you won’t ever lose an edge, but Skate Doctor takes all measures to ensure that our sharpening is consistent and level to minimize your risk. Come see us today to get an edge on your competition!

It Fits Like A Glove (Custom Skates)

posted Jan 15, 2016, 3:40 PM by Skate Doctor   [ updated Jan 15, 2016, 3:41 PM ]

Do I need custom skates? As a VH Footwear Authorized Dealer and Pro Fitter, this is a question we get asked a lot – especially when customers get an opportunity to look at and handle our custom skates! It may also not be the easiest or most straightforward question to answer.


A vast majority of recreational skaters and players at the community or quadrant level will end up in “stock”, or off-the-shelf skates. Some of these players may have no issues whatsoever, and others may battle daily with foot pain, swelling, lace-bite, ankle pain, decreased performance, and referred alignment pain into their knees, hips or back. Most players who compete at a higher level, up to and including many professional leagues, will rely on custom skates for added levels of fit, performance, comfort and durability. Some players, regardless of skill level, simply want to wear the best skate available to them.

Aside from those playing at a higher level or professionally, there are others who may require a custom skate. Not all feet are created equally. Most off-the-shelf skates are based on a generalized “last” or foot shape – or a foot shape that is consistent with a large majority of skaters. Some companies have a few brands or fit profiles to appeal to a few of the most common foot shapes (for example, Bauer Vapor, Bauer Supreme, or Bauer Nexus, or CCM Jetspeed, CCM Ribcor or CCM Tacks).

Each of these brands or fit profiles will feel slightly different on your foot. While these various fit profiles may appeal to a few different generalized shapes of feet, they don’t always cover all the bases.

What happens if you have a foot that is narrower or wider than the majority of skaters? What if the depth or volume of your foot is smaller or larger than everyone else? What if you’ve had an injury, or a physical or biomechanical issue that makes your foot deviate from the norm? Some players even have one foot that is up to one or two full sizes larger than the other. These are all areas where custom skates are extremely beneficial.

A custom skate is designed to the exact measurements of each of your feet. These measurements may include length, width, depth, volume, arch height and foot alignment. Additional options may include stiffness, stitching, protective qualities, color or other aesthetic or comfort considerations, liner, toe cap, tongue, holder and blade choice and mounting. Due to the large amount of custom factors and options, custom skates are typically only offered by skate fitters with a vast amount of experience in skate fitting.

As a Pro Skate Fitter, Skate Doctor uses our extensive experience fitting skates for players at the professional level to ensure every aspect of your skate fits properly and enhances your performance and comfort on the ice. All custom skate fittings include a thorough assessment of many factors, including alignment, to ensure your custom skates fit like a glove. Interested? Contact Us to book an appointment today!

Time to Square Up (Skate Holder and Blade Alignment)

posted Aug 20, 2015, 2:16 PM by Skate Doctor   [ updated Aug 20, 2015, 2:25 PM ]

Pronation and Supination may sound like superheroes, or maybe some far away imaginary lands, but they’re actually a term you’ll likely hear more often in your Chiropractor, Podiatrist or Physiotherapist’s office.

Pronation, or eversion, is the inward roll of the foot (medial malleolus) while walking, running or skating.

Right foot (from behind) - over-pronating, or rolling inward.

Supination, or inversion, is the outward roll of the foot while walking, running or skating.

Right foot (from behind) over-supinating, or rolling outward.

Your body cycles in and out of pronation and supination with every step (or stride) you take. Most people have a resting foot position that either pronates or supinates. Excessive, or over-pronation and over-supination can cause many symptoms that affect the foot, ankle, knees, hips and back. These symptoms can cause a wide range of problems related to comfort and performance.

As we’ve hinted, over-pronation and over-supination does not only occur on pavement, but while skating as well. Due to the construction of skates and the mechanics of skating, these conditions are often amplified on the ice.

A skater who over-pronates leans inward on his skates, using mostly the inside edge of the skate blade. These players can often not “reach” their outside edges, or have difficulty doing so because of the angle of their ankle and the skate.

A skater over-pronating (exaggerated) on skates.

A skater who over-supinates leans outward on his skates, using mostly the outside edge of the skate blade. These players can often not “reach” their inside edges, or have difficulty doing so because of the angle of their ankle and the skate.

It doesn’t matter if you’re over-pronating or over-supinating – both of these factors are equally destructive to your skating performance, balance, comfort and technique. Think about crossovers, tight turns, accelerations, pivots, etc. Those all sound pretty difficult to accomplish if you aren’t square on your skate blades and able to use both your edges.  

What causes over-pronation and over-supination? There are a variety of factors, including, but not limited to:

- Biomechanical (or the structure and function of your body) reasons, including foot shape

- Improperly fitted skates (too large, wrong cut or boot shape)

- Inadequate support in skates (skates too soft, unable to support player properly)

- Improperly constructed, lasted or designed skates.  

What can be done to correct over-pronation and over-supination? The good news is that there are a lot of ways to solve these common problems – and a skilled, experienced, and trained Skate Technician can diagnose and recommend the proper solution, or combination of solutions to solve the problem. Not all skate or local hockey shops are trained or able to diagnose and make modifications to solve these issues – so select your shop and Skate Technician carefully.

The following methods, or combination of methods may be used to help skaters who over-pronate or over-supinate:

1). Ensure the player is in the correct skate. This includes solving any fit- or support-related issues that may be leading towards, or amplifying the condition.

2). Ensure the player has a suitable, supportive insole. Skate Doctor is an authorized retailer for SuperFeet insoles, which help align the foot in the skate, support the heel, and put the foot in alignment with the knee and rest of the body. Some players will require custom or orthotic insoles for their skates – we can refer you in the right direction for these as well. 


3). A series of small, plastic shims may be inserted between the skate sole and the skate blade holder. These shims alter the angle at which the skate blade contacts the ice to align the player’s foot over the blade and allow equal access for both edges.
4). The skate holder itself may be moved either medially (inward) or laterally (outward) to alter the center-point of the skate blade under the player’s foot

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Skate Doctor is skilled, experienced and trained in skate assessment, troubleshooting and blade alignment. Our many years of experience in this area give us the distinction of being one of the few shops in Alberta comfortable and capable of diagnosing skate alignment issues to solve over-pronation or over-supination problems. We’ve worked with countless players at all skill levels to help them find their edges. All brands and models of skates are welcome.


While helping you obtain proper alignment, we are also able to address any pain or comfort issues you may be experiencing in your skates. Contact Us today to book your skate assessment and alignment appointment!

If the Boot Fits (New or Used Skates)

posted Aug 8, 2015, 10:36 AM by Skate Doctor   [ updated Aug 8, 2015, 10:42 AM ]

It’s that time of year. Summer is quickly fading and hockey is right around the corner. If you haven’t been on your skates all summer, perhaps this is around the time that you pull them out of your hockey bag to see if they still fit. Maybe you’re quickly reminded of some painful skate issues that plagued you throughout your last season. Whatever the case, this is typically the time of year when many people start the search for new (or used) skates. 

Unfortunately, a lot of skaters are in the wrong skate. Young and old, recreational and competitive, new or used, it’s plain and simple – wrong skate. Some players go through their entire “careers” struggling in the “wrong” skate. It happens. Some players are very aware of the problem, frequently plagued by pain and discomfort. Others just never recognize the performance gap caused by using the wrong skate.

Fact: Just like feet, skates are NOT all created equally. There are many factors that go into the creation of a skate, but we’ll focus on just a few of them here today.

       ·      Fit

       ·      Stiffness

       ·      Cut/Pitch

Fit

The fit of a skate describes its overall shape. It describes its length, width (forefoot and heel), and depth (from heel to instep, or volume). It may also describe the shape or support of the sole where it comes in contact with the bottom of your foot. Manufacturers use a “last”, or foot model, to create skates. In the case of an off-the-shelf skate, this last is based on a generalized, normal foot size and shape that the manufacturer is trying to appeal to. If you’re lucky, one of these generalized lasts may be a perfect match for your foot, and an off-the-shelf skate may fit you perfectly. If you’re someone with an irregular foot or foot problems, a regularly lasted skate may not work for you and you may experience pain or performance gaps unless you seek custom built skates.

We get asked all the time – “What is the best skate?” This is a loaded question, because the “best” skate is the one that fits YOU the best and feels the best on your foot. Just because your friend or child’s friend is wearing a certain skate and loves it, doesn’t mean that it will work for you. In fact, we encourage you to try on as many skates as you can to find the one that fits you best. Different brands and even models/lines within a brand are marketed to different foot shapes and types. Simply getting a skate because it looks “cool”, has the best color, or because “Tommy has it”, doesn’t imply that it will fit you properly. A Bauer can fit differently than a CCM or a Graf… And yes, a Bauer Vapor will fit differently than a Bauer Supreme or Bauer Nexus. A CCM RBZ will fit differently than a Jet Speed or Tack, etc. Whoever is fitting your skates should know the differences between all the models available and be able to suggest something that will work for your unique foot shape and size. 

Stiffness

Stiffer skates have a harder boot, typically in the sides and the area near the eyelets. Higher-end, pricier skates are typically stiffer than lower-end skates. A stiffer skate often appeals to more competitive players or more skilled skaters who require the additional protection and support, and can use the energy transfer from a stiffer skate boot to enhance their performance. Softer skates are often used by recreational skaters or for rental skates where there is more of an emphasis on comfort and less on performance.

In addition to protection and support, a stiffer skate will also last longer for a more competitive player. A stiffer, properly fitted skate will prevent the skate from breaking down as quickly as a softer skate. Signs of a skate breaking down include creasing, cracking, tearing or excessive softening.

Stiffness is very much also up to personal preference, so choose a skate that feels good on your feet. When trying on skates, flex forward and try to experience the full range of the skate on your foot to understand how it might feel on the ice… And remember, the top of the line, most expensive skate may not be the one that feels best for you or allows you to perform the best.  

Cut/Pitch

Different models of skates have different “cuts”. The “cut” describes how high the skate material goes up the side of the boot. Think of a low-cut skate being comparable to a convertible car, and a high-cut skate being closer to an SUV. A lower-cut skate has the potential for a greater range of ankle and foot flexion, however, should be paired with an experienced skater with strong ankles and developed stride. A higher-cut skate has perhaps slightly less range of flexion, but provides greater support and can be favored by skaters at all levels. Find a skate that feels like it is providing you the support you personally like and need on the ice.

Pitch describes whether a skate puts a skater on their toes, in a neutral balance point, or back towards their heels. Pitch may be created by how the boot was lasted, or through the combination of skate blade holder and skate steel. Again, this is largely up to personal preference, but is also one of the features of a skate that can be easily modified through lifts or blade profiling

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Skate Doctor is experienced in sizing, fitting and solving issues related to skating pain and performance. We can help you find a new skate that will work well for your feet, or bake and/or punch, profile and sharpen a used pair of skates that you’ve purchased elsewhere. Our goal is to help you excel on the ice by ensuring your skates are fitted and performing properly.

If you find that you’re having a hard time finding a skate that fits due to a variety of factors, including injury, irregular foot shape or size, or medical condition, etc. you may be a perfect candidate for custom skates. Skate Doctor is the authorized dealer for VH Footwear custom hockey skates, which are handmade in Canada to your measurements and specifications. Many options are customizable to get you the fit, feel and performance that match your style of play or desired look. Contact us today to set up a fitting session and to try on one of our fit samples, or visit our VH Footwear page for more information. 

Remember, your skates are one of the most important investments you can make as a skater. Do not settle for pain or a pair that just doesn’t fit you properly!

That Smell (Skate Odor & Care)

posted Jan 31, 2015, 2:40 PM by Skate Doctor   [ updated Jan 31, 2015, 2:40 PM ]

“Ooooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell”


I don’t think Lynyrd Skynyrd was singing about hockey skates, but for the purposes of this blog, let’s assume he was.

Let’s face it. Feet can be fairly gross. Due to their proximity to your feet and because they’re at the bottom end of a sweaty athlete, skates can also be downright nasty. Trust us, we know! This moist, warm, dirty area is a natural breeding ground for bacteria and other undesirables.

Here are some tips for keeping your skates fresh (and your feet happy)…

Use a pair of skate socks. There are many different types on the market. Some are thinner or thicker than others; some have added protection through Kelvar or similar materials. My favorite is the Bauer Vapor Performance Sock. If you like a thinner pair of socks for that “natural” feeling, try a pair of Thinnies. At the end of the day, they all create a barrier between your foot and the skate boot, and they definitely absorb some of that moisture and sweat.

Take out your insoles after every skate. A layer of moisture becomes trapped between the insoles and the bottom of your skate. Coincidentally, this is also where steel rivets attach the blade holders to your skate boot.
Steel rivets + moisture = rust. Rusted rivets lead to weakened or broken rivets and loose blade holders. Not good! Also, remember to keep those insoles near your skates so that you don’t forget them when you’re packing up your bag again.

Air out your skates after every use. Yes, every single use. Take those skates out of your hockey bag, unlace them a bit, pull the tongues outward and hang them upside down (with the insoles out), preferably with the toes at the highest point. This not only allows the skates to air dry, but it also allows any excess moisture deep in the toe box area to drain down and out.

If things are still getting funky despite your best efforts, try a bit of baking soda, or invest in a sports deodorizing spray that contains silver. Silver inhibits the growth of bacteria, therefore stopping the problem at the root cause.

Lastly, pay attention to your feet. Treat and bandage any blisters or cuts and chat with your Skate Technician about any skate issues that may be leading to these problems. Staph or MRSA infections aren’t fun and will undoubtedly keep you off the ice; and nobody wants that.

Profiling the Profile (Skate Blade Profiling)

posted Jan 25, 2015, 2:07 PM by Skate Doctor   [ updated Aug 25, 2015, 1:19 PM ]

“My skates were just profiled – don’t ruin or change my profile!” This is another topic we discuss frequently with customers. The “profile” is the shape of your blade, from toe to heel – the gliding surface – the portion of steel that comes in contact with the ice when you skate. A qualified Skate Technician can put a variety of profiles on your skate blades, but did you know, all skates and new blades come with a factory profile out of the box?

Gliding surface (roughly highlighted) of a skate blade.

The factory profile varies by the brand of skate and type of blade, but most are in the range of 8’ to 11’ (or 8-foot to 11-foot) radius. What does this mean? Imagine a really large circle with an 8-foot radius. Look the edge of this circle – it has a slight curve to it. Now imagine a larger circle with a 13-foot radius. The edge is a bit flatter, or not as pronounced, because the circle is larger. This shape is applied to less than 20% of the center-most portion of the bottom of your skate blade when it is profiled. A profile can also be applied to your blade closer to the toe or closer to the heel (but more about that in a future post).

An 8-foot profile means there’s less blade contacting the ice. In theory, this provides less resistance to lateral (or side-to-side) movement, creating greater maneuverability. This is beneficial for tighter turns and quicker starts and stops.

A longer profile (13-foot, for example) means that there’s more blade contacting the ice. In theory, this provides more resistance to lateral movement and greater stability, but sacrifices a bit of maneuverability. A longer profile also creates potential for faster acceleration and greater speed with less effort.

A Skate Technician uses a template and jig or a computerized machine to grind a certain profile into your blades. This is not a free-hand task. The result is an identical shape on both of your skate blades.


CAG ONE PROFILER automated system (left) and Black Stone Sport Shaper System (right)

Through ANY sharpening and regular skating your profile WILL change over time. In addition, any single sharpening has the potential to change your profile drastically if not performed properly. Excessive cross-grinding, pausing on an area of the blade, or excessive or uneven pressure are all culprits that may result in issues with your profile – these may be amplified by an under-qualified Skate Technician or an improperly calibrated skate sharpening machine. A properly trained and experienced Skate Technician can minimize the degree of change or damage to your profile.

Consumers beware! Some hockey shops make their bread and butter on selling profiling services and will tell you your profile is off to make a service sale. For example, they may place an 8-foot gauge (or a piece of metal equivalent to an 8-foot profile) on your blade and show you that your profile is “off”. Well, if your blade had a 10-foot factory profile, it definitely isn’t going to match up with an 8-foot gauge or 9-foot gauge. You’ll see a gap between the gauge and the blade and your Technician will try to convince you that your blade isn’t contacting the ice properly – when in fact it may be – for a factory 10-foot profile. In comparison, a 13-foot gauge will definitely rock back and forth on a 9-foot profiled skate blade and appear to have a high center.


Exaggerated short profile, such as 7' (left) and longer profile, such as 13' (right)


A properly trained Skate Technician will know what the factory profile was on your blade, be able to compare that with the profile currently on your blade and be able to make any recommendations to your profile that will further benefit your game. Equipment managers and properly trained Skate Technicians know the game of hockey inside and out. They know not only the science behind skating and the body, but the technology behind the equipment they service and repair. They know how different profiles feel on the ice and how these contribute to various hockey positions, injury/rehabilitation and skating styles.

Do all skaters use custom profiles? Not necessarily. In many cases, players use the factory profile on their skates, which serves them fine. Of course, there are performance benefits to trying different profiles to find one that matches your power, stance, skating style and position. Profiling your steel is recommended at least twice per year - or on on-demand if you've had a bad sharpening, new steel, blade damage or have recently picked up a new (or used) pair of skates. Who knows where the last owner of your used skates got them sharpened, or what profile they've been ground to. Feel free to ask if you have any questions about profiling or your skates in general. At Skate Doctor, we love talking about skates and performance and are always ready to help solve a problem or help you skate at your maximum potential with the most comfort.

Do You Believe in Magic? (“Magic” Sticks)

posted Jan 24, 2015, 11:59 AM by Skate Doctor   [ updated Jan 24, 2015, 12:00 PM ]

“Magic-Stick” is the generic name for a variety of skate tune-up devices that generally perform the same function. The “X” shaped stone (or hone) is slid down the blade of a skate to forcibly push a lost or damaged edge back into proper alignment. This provides an emergency quick-fix to temporarily restore a lost edge – perhaps late in the 3rd period of the big game. They are not designed for long-term, continuous use, or as a replacement for regular skate sharpening. Before we continue, take note of a few keywords in this paragraph – “forcibly”, “emergency”, and “temporarily”.


Magic-Stick device

Do we believe in, or sell Magic-Sticks at Skate Doctor? That’s a question that we hear often in the shop. While Magic-Sticks have a purpose, such as illustrated in the 3rd period emergency example above, they are not replacements for regular skate sharpening and can actually do damage to your skate blades. A common misconception is that these devices are all-inclusive repair and maintenance tools that can be used regularly to extend the amount of time between skate sharpening. Wrong. For these reasons, we chose not to carry Magic-Sticks or offer them as a solution for anything aside from emergencies.


Magic-Sticks can damage or break your skate blade edges.

Repeated use or abuse of Magic-Sticks damages your skate blades. They weaken the steel when the edges are forcibly grabbed and bent back into shape. Over time (or perhaps with as little as a single use) the edge of the steel may break. We can always tell when a Magic-Stick was used on a blade – there’s no hiding or denying it. In most cases, we suggest cross-grinding a blade to repair the damage done by a Magic-Stick to ensure a proper sharpening. This removes the damaged edge and steel and gives you a fresh slate, but it also reduces the lifespan of your blades. 


Cross-grind station

Think twice before using a Magic-Stick. Your blades will thank you (and so will your Skate Technician). If you need to use a Magic-Stick in an emergency situation, always remember to get your skates sharpened soon afterwards.

Leveling the Playing Field (Skate Blade Edges)

posted Jan 16, 2015, 10:12 AM by Skate Doctor   [ updated Jan 21, 2015, 11:26 AM ]

Skates are one of the most important pieces of equipment to a hockey or ringette player, or figure skater. They are your direct connection with the ice. If your skates aren't maintained properly, it will surely affect your game.
 
You've probably heard us talking about the squareness or level of skate blade edges. If you've stopped by the shop, you've seen us meticulously checking and balancing the edges of skate blades until they're nothing short of perfect. But, why is this so important? Are we suffering from a major case of OCD, or just going the extra step to ensure that you're set up for success on the ice?

Let's start with a bit of background. All skate blades start out as a thin, mostly square piece of steel. Some blades are thinner and others are thicker. This varies by the type of skate, type of blade, purpose, manufacturer, etc. When you get your skates sharpened, a pattern or "hollow" is ground or cut into the bottom of your skate blade. This is the inverse (or opposite) shape of what we've dressed our cutting wheel, and can be traditional/conventional radius of hollow (ROH), or Flat Bottom V (FBV). Furthermore, each shape can have different degrees or depths, which give you more bite or more glide (essentially higher edges or lower equal edges).
An exaggerated, radius of hollow (or ROH) at left, and an exaggerated, Flat Bottom V (or FBV) at right. Both are pictured as even/square.

As your blade comes in contact with the ice, it actually melts a small amount of the surface of the ice to create the glide you feel while skating (queue "The More You Know" music). In order to turn, stop, accelerate and use your skates to their full potential the edges ground into your skates during sharpening must be even! Seems like a simple concept, right? Well, you'd be surprised how many skates are sharpened incorrectly with horribly uneven edges. This is usually a combination of improperly configured equipment, inexperienced operators, bent skate blades, lack of attention or a technician who simply doesn't care. Even a small degree of error can lead to a miserable time on the ice. When we put our edge-checker on your blade, we want it to be perfectly level on both sides of the gauge. If the gauge is tilted on either side, your skate is not sharpened properly!

Uneven (improperly sharpened) edges at left, and even (properly sharpened) edges at right. See the difference?

Some of the symptoms of uneven edges include:
  • Difficulty stopping
  • "Chattering" or "chopping" sensation when stopping
  • Inability to turn in one direction
  • Feeling like your skates are "slipping out" from under you
  • Feeling like you're "missing an edge"

We sometimes get a request to sharpen skates off-center so that it is easier for the player to stop. This is not advisable because while you may have an easier time stopping, you may not be able to turn, fall while turning, or have issues with cross-overs or balance. We always sharpen your skates with even edges, but can reduce the hollow depth of your grind (from 1/2" to 5/8", for example) to give you less bite. In the end, you still have perfectly even edges, but they're less aggressive.

A quick mention to all the old-school goalies out there - we also prefer to sharpen your goalie skate edges evenly, but try different grind depths to find your sweet spot for push-offs and/or shuffling.

At Skate Doctor, we check every skate for even edges at 3 points (toe, middle, heel) after sharpening. You may also see us check skate blade edges before sharpening if we feel something is off. That's right, through our experience we can feel AND see when there is an issue with a skate blade or previous sharpening.


We also calibrate and check the accuracy of our gauges frequently using a certified square piece of steel. Feel free to ask to see our edge checker on your skates before and/or after sharpening - we want you to know that we've done our job (or how your skates looked before they came in)! That's why our experience and process leads to a better, consistent sharpening every time.

  

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