Let's have a look at one of the essential figure skating equipment to have in your bag: how to choose the best figure skate guards to protect your blades and keep your skates in good condition. We will be covering all you need to know: technical systems, colors, sizes, maintenance, customization...
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What are skate guards and why do you need them?
It is very important to know that ice skate blades can only touch 2 types of surface without being damaged:
- rubber flooring
And even on rubber flooring there can be dirt, stones or metal you don't see that can damage the blade.
Even a little dent on your blade can make ice skating very difficult. Chips in the blade edges mean less control on the ice. To fix it, you will need to sharpen a lot which reduces the life of your blades (see my article about sharpening figure skates).
Therefore, you should protect your blade as soon as you step off the ice. They are one of the essential equipment to have in your bag.
Blade guards are covers made of plastic that you place on your blade. They are designed to protect them.
As a general rule, the less you walk in skates off the ice, the better.
Just don't forget to remove them when entering the ice (I write from experience, it is painful).
Note: do not get confused with the blade soakers which are made of absorbent tissue and protect the blade inside the bag. Some people call them guard as well.
2 systems - which are the best figure skate guards?
There are mainly 2 types of guards for figure skates.
The Centipede / Latch system
This is often the preferred guards for beginners and young kids.
This is because you don't have to cut them. You just have to adjust the back fixation in the right hole for the size of your skate, which means it can grow with your kid's skates.
- Easy to set up
- Can be kept if you change skates' size
- After a while, they can become loose and the fixing attachment dislodge as you are walking
- For young kids with small fit, they are very long if you don't cut them
The Universal / Spring system
All figure skaters from a certain level use those.
They are made of 2 pieces of plastics connected by springs which are screwed in the plastic.
You have to cut them to the size of your skates so that there is tension and a little bit of space between the plastic parts when set up on the blade.
- Very stable
- Best protection of the whole blade
- More difficult to set up (but instructions are sent when them)
Spring system made to order: Rockerz
If you want to remove the constraint of setting it up and still have the benefit of a spring system, check out the Rockerz blade guard.
They are fully customizable based on:
- skate brand
- skate size
So they make a great new figure skating gift (see all my suggestions)!
Other criteria - how to choose you ice skate blade cover?
Reviews of quality
Make sure to check the reviews, as some brands use cheap springs. You want to buy something that can last.
Where they are made?
Some of you may be interested to know where they are made. You might prefer buying local.
Considering the low price of this type of product, they are often made in Asia.
Rockerz® are apparently made in USA
Choose your colors. There are a lot of choices whatever product you select. You can express your personality!
Plus if you choose the spring universal system, you can buy 2 pairs in different colors and mix them! Same with the Rockerz, you can choose your colors.
The Rockerz brand indicate that it is "Made with recycled materials. All parts 100% recyclable"
Size - How to fit your Skate guard (spring system)?
Are there different sizes?
Most guards are 'one size fit all'. You have to cut them to the size of your skates
Just note that for the centipede, the shape at the front of the guard is different for hockey skates and figure sates. So, buy the figure skating version.
How to fit?
If you have chosen the spring system, you will have to cut them.
- Check the length of the 2 pieces against your blade. Determine if they need to be cut
- As needed cut one module by one module until it is just under the length of the blade - cut on both pieces to keep the attachment in the middle - use a saw or a strong box knife.
- butt the two cut ends together, mount the springs in the most appropriate holes to balance the spring over the 2 pieces. You may have a gap between the 2 halves. through which to mount the springs.
- One screw goes on each side; when it gets through to the other side, position the ring from the other spring and keep screwing it in so that it locks.
It is normal to have a small gap between the pieces of plastic - you need tension!
How to personalize your ice skate guards?
Put Your Name On Them and / or decorate
There are not that many skate guard options out there, and it is frequent to have the same as other skaters which means finding your guards at the end of the session is annoying.
So you can write your initials, your name or fully decorate your guards to make them recognizable.
You need permanent markers that work for plastic.
I don't recommend stickers. They won't stay stuck for long as you torture your guards on and off the blade.
Mix the colors
As I wrote earlier you can mix colors of guards to have something that you love.
When not to use blade guards?
The guards are important to take care of your skates. But blade guards should only be used between the time you get off the ice and the moment you remove your feet from the skates (and the opposite).
Once you are out of them, you should remove the plastic guard, thoroughly dry the blade and the mounting places and place blade soakers on them.
The guards should NEVER be left on the blades once they are taken off, in the skating bag or outside the bag. The plastic will collect moisture and a long contact between water and the blades will cause rust to form.
Clean your equipment
Over time, a lot of dirt can be collected inside the guards. And remember, you are wearing them so that your blade doesn't get in contact with dirt and grit...
Therefore, you should clean your guards regularly to avoid all damage to your blades.
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