Skate Blade Contouring is a method of reshaping the steel on your skates. The shape of the steel runner dictates many things for the player including balance, transfer of power, freedom to pivot and ability to glide. Today, most retail steel out of the box is shaped inconsistently and is the culprit of undue fatigue, premature soreness and lack of power with playing. Let's talk about how we can alleviate these ailments.
Skates blades are shaped on a big circle. Often blades come from the manufacturer shaped on a 9 to 10 foot radius. This means a portion of that big circle is used to shape the bottom arch or radius of your skate blade and dictates how much steel in contact with the ice at any given time. If we reduce the size of the circle – say to a 7 foot radius - it creates a more rounded blade and allows the player to pivot much easier being that there is less steel touching the ice. It also changes the balance of the player because they are skating on a less stable surface.
Increasing the size of the circle puts more steel in contact with the ice and creates more stability for the player. This also creates a great gliding surface and when paired with the right sharpening cuts down on energy needs. Along with blade radius, when the center point of the skate is found, the steel can be pitched forward or backwards. A forward lean puts the skater on their toes and a neutral position stands the player more upright.
Say for instance you are a beginner skater who would want as much stability as possible. Beginner skaters – who lack good balance – stand very upright. If we use a larger radius and pitch the skate forward, we create good stability and allow the skater to achieve that bent knee position. This starts the basis of good skating mechanics.
On the other end of the spectrum - more experienced skaters – could potentially want less steel in contact with the ice to free up movement. Balance is not an issue at this point and having the ability to pivot and accelerate faster would improve their performance.
There are many advantages that can come from getting your blades shaped. When coupled with the proper sharpening it can make a dramatic difference in your skating ability.
The Contouring System uses the concept of radius to give you maximum maneuverability, stability, and balance. Generally, new skates are not well matched from skate to skate and require proper contouring to remove any high spots on the blades and to adjust the lie or balance point to the skater's preference.
The length of the radius controls the amount of blade touching the ice and they must be even with each other. A skate with a long, flat blade is generally a fast skate, as in a racing skate, but provides very limited maneuverability. A skate with a short radius, such as a figure skate provides excellent maneuverability but very poor control on long strides and not much speed. The correct radius is a compromise between maneuverability and stability resulting in maximum control and reduced muscle fatigue. The generally accepted radius for hockey skates is 9'. This is the approximate radius that will come from the manufacturer, but as stated above, this is not precise and final sharpening and contouring are left for the skate sharpener.
Skates direct from the factory may be inconsistent in shape from one blade to the other, and in most cases have the incorrect lie for the individual skater. Both skates must have the same shape and balance point for optimum skating performance, so a matched pair of shaped and balanced blades is necessary. The contour of the skates should be checked periodically (at least annually) to restore the profile which has probably been altered from repeated sharpening.
For years sharpeners have been rockering skate blades. The idea was to put a radius on the blade to increase maneuverability. Although the idea is sound, the operation is free-hand. Consequently, there is no consistency of radius from skate to skate, and more importantly, no consistency in the lie of the radius. The radius on a rockered blade extends from toe to heel, and too much blade is usually taken off both front and back. The results may be inconsistent from sharpening to sharpening, as well as from one skate to the other and can often be harmful.
Contouring on the other hand should not be a free-hand operation. Contouring shapes and balances blades to match the skater's natural stance and style. A contoured pair of skates has the same lie, and each skate has an equal amount of blade on the ice. Additionally, the contouring system has the unique advantage of being able to shape your new skates exactly like your old pair, so you don't have to readjust your skating style or "get used to" your new skates. Contouring takes out all the guesswork and gives you the same quality workmanship time after time
Blademaster Custom Radius systemis used to deliver that precision workmanship in our shop. All of our Staff has been trained and certified to deliver consistent and reliable service.