About a week and a half ago, I was forced to retire my old figure skates. Why? After about a year of carrying screwdrivers with me to every competition in fear of chasing down loose screws during warmup (which was always a regular occurrence during practice) I decided it was time to upgrade to some new, stiffer boots and some new blades.
I’ve been skating about five years on a pair of boots that are roughly two sizes too small (resulting in stabbing foot pain that occurs at really random times, even when I’m off the ice) and blades that are not big enough for the “advanced” moves I’m learning. Don’t get me wrong–I’m no Gracie Gold, but at least now we have the same blades.
The first time I put on my new skates I was, unusually, not in any pain. Most skaters spend 2-3 weeks breaking in skates with bloody blisters, sores, and just a general feeling that something isn’t right. You suffer the “bent knee” syndrome because the boot’s tongue is cutting into your shins, preventing you from bending your knees (something that all experienced skaters naturally do) and your feet feeling as though they’re being squeezed by somesort of press. Me? My old skates were so painful and ill-fitting that my new skates felt like I was literally skating on a cloud.
Except for the blades. I ordered Pattern 99’s, which are easily the best in the business right now for all advanced skaters. However, Pattern 99’s have a HUGE rocker and toepick, and compared to my old blades (basically just a pathetic step-up from rec skates at an outdoor rink) it was a tremendous adjustment. In fact, when my coach instructed me to skate backwards for the first time in them, I wiped out immediately, landing on a spot in my hip that has already taken a beating in past backspin attempts.
But I persevered. Despite the fear I felt doing simple turns I could almost do in my sleep, I skated all of my normal practices without skipping out early. Now, about 10 days later, I’m chomping at the bit to resume my normal jumps and spins.
New boots, new blades. A new outlook? I’m working on it. I’ve got a lot of awkwardness to smooth out in the next year (or five) and I’m ready to tackle it.