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Profiling the Profile (Skate Blade Profiling)

posted Jan 25, 2015, 2:07 PM by Skate Doctor   [ updated Jan 29, 2020, 5:38 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.

Most recently, "combination profiles" have become quite popular. Combination profiles feature a blend of 2, 3, or 4 "separate" profiles. Some combination profiles may feature a flat area in the centre of the blade designed to increase speed and stability. Combination profiles give you multiple advantages, such as agility, ease of transition, speed, balance and stability - all together in a single profile. At Skate Doctor we use the Blademaster Mark VI Custom Radius system and currently offer the following profiles: 

"Pitch" tilts the skater forward or backwards on the skates. It adjusts the balance point of the skater. Changing the pitch moves the working radius towards the heel or toe of the skate. Reverse (negative) pitch is not recommended.

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 6' (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.