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Author Topic: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?  (Read 2670 times)

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Offline Ethereal Ice

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2017, 09:56:06 PM »
Well… first time ever on dance blades Friday. Here are my thoughts, for davincisop and anyone else whom it might help…

1) Have your coach with you the first time you step on the ice. The blades are WAY different, and you will need to approach things very slowly and carefully until you build up some confidence (unless, as Lutefisk says, you are on your intergalactic level dances).

2) Remember the difference between driving a car with power steering and one without? (I'm probably dating myself a little here.) Dance blades are total power steering. Coach said it was the difference between driving a Model T and a Ferrari. She is right.

3) These puppies turn like nobody's business. They are MADE for turning. Long curved edges, however… challenging. You will need to tweak your balance and checking to a degree you never thought possible. It's like skating on upright paper clips. SKINNY BLADES! Oh, my word. And you feel every Zamboni slush bump in the ice.

I was reasonably confident after 2 hours on Friday… broke down in sobs on Saturday and was ready to throw them into the river… things got marginally better on Sunday… and today actually ran a Willow Waltz pattern with music (admittedly QUITE poorly). Swing rolls are still scary. So is any footwork on the toes… have to completely re-learn where to plant my toepicks.

Verdict? I will love them—WHEN I learn how to drive them. Right now I'm a pony rider on a thoroughbred.

Wow, must be beginner's luck, I did not die switching like I did. One of the reasons I switched only a year into skating is that I knew it was ultimately what I wanted to be on and did not want to get used to the other blades too long. I did not have my coach with me but my hubby held one hand and I held the rail with the other for a lap or so. After that I was on my own.

So, I am about 20 hours into skating on my new blades and today was the best day ever for me. I sat down last week and really tried to figure out what was the most difficult thing with these new blades after being on them about 15 hours and realized that stroking, one foot straight glides and going backwards in general were my major weak spots. The  stroking and glides on the flat are really unnerving due to the narrowness of the blade. I am relieved to hear your take on the "skating on paperclips" and feeling every bump in the ice, now I know I am not insane, that is *exactly* how I felt when skating on the flat of the blade. As for going backwards, crossovers are easier but things like swizzles and slalom are so fast I get a bit panicky.  The other thing is stopping on the sharp narrow blades is taking some practice. My T stops are actually better in them, my snowplow feels off but is getting better.

Today was the best day by far on my new blades, I am finally getting my stroking back where I can extend and point my foot and hold without feeling like I am going to die. Also am getting used to feeling all the irregularity in the ice. Very nice review, thanks, and you are right about the turning as well, as a beginner I actually like that aspect of them.

As for the person that asked about the shorter blades and going over backwards, that is one thing I have never had a problem with, knock wood, I tend to lean too far forward on them because I get panicky about their zippyness.

Offline icedancer

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« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2017, 10:13:09 PM »
Wow, must be beginner's luck, I did not die switching like I did. One of the reasons I switched only a year into skating is that I knew it was ultimately what I wanted to be on and did not want to get used to the other blades too long. I did not have my coach with me but my hubby held one hand and I held the rail with the other for a lap or so. After that I was on my own.

So, I am about 20 hours into skating on my new blades and today was the best day ever for me. I sat down last week and really tried to figure out what was the most difficult thing with these new blades after being on them about 15 hours and realized that stroking, one foot straight glides and going backwards in general were my major weak spots. The  stroking and glides on the flat are really unnerving due to the narrowness of the blade. I am relieved to hear your take on the "skating on paperclips" and feeling every bump in the ice, now I know I am not insane, that is *exactly* how I felt when skating on the flat of the blade. As for going backwards, crossovers are easier but things like swizzles and slalom are so fast I get a bit panicky.  The other thing is stopping on the sharp narrow blades is taking some practice. My T stops are actually better in them, my snowplow feels off but is getting better.

Today was the best day by far on my new blades, I am finally getting my stroking back where I can extend and point my foot and hold without feeling like I am going to die. Also am getting used to feeling all the irregularity in the ice. Very nice review, thanks, and you are right about the turning as well, as a beginner I actually like that aspect of them.

As for the person that asked about the shorter blades and going over backwards, that is one thing I have never had a problem with, knock wood, I tend to lean too far forward on them because I get panicky about their zippyness.

Ethereal Ice it may be possible that you would do better with a shallower hollow than the one that you have on the blade currently - having too deep of a hollow may explain why you "catch an edge" so easily when you are skating "on flats" - (actually you should never be skating on flats even when you are doing forward stroking) -

It is something to think about.

Glad you are enjoying your blades!

Offline Query

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2017, 11:02:41 PM »
Second question:  how do synchro blades compare to dance blades?

A lot of people think they are intermediate between freestyle and dance.

The only Synchro blades I've used are the Jackson Ultima blades, specifically Jackson Ultima Matrix 1 Synchro runners. They had toe picks intermediate in length and aggressiveness between Ultima Matrix I Supreme and Ultima Matrix I Dance. But they had tails that were shorter than the tails of both the Dance and Supreme runners - perhaps Ultima thought that Synchro offers more chances for people to step on other skaters' blades, so needs extra short blades?

But Jackson Ultima Matrix 1 Synchro runners are now out of date, because Ultima has dropped both the Matrix I line, and the "Synchro" line. (Jackson Ultima blades now include another Synchro model called "Finesse".)

In addition, the Supreme model is a high end competition model - I can't say how they compare to lower end Ultima freestyle blades. I would assume their toe picks are more aggressive than lower end freestyle blades too.

I admit that isn't very useful, since it is all out of date... Sorry.

I honestly don't think losing your balance to the rear is much of a problem on the Dance or Synchro blades I've tried - unless, perhaps, you are doing a difficult backwards landing jump, or you are a beginner. But I can't speak for everyone.

It's a shame that, with the end of Matrix I, there are no easily interchangeable blade runners in the figure skating world, so you could easily switch between inexpensive blade runners and styles. (Several convenient interchangeable runner systems exist in the hockey world.)

Offline Ethereal Ice

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Re: !
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2017, 02:22:54 AM »
Ethereal Ice it may be possible that you would do better with a shallower hollow than the one that you have on the blade currently - having too deep of a hollow may explain why you "catch an edge" so easily when you are skating "on flats" - (actually you should never be skating on flats even when you are doing forward stroking) -

It is something to think about.

Glad you are enjoying your blades!

Thanks you for the feedback Icedancer. I have considered going back to the 1/2" ROH like I had on my old blades (currently on a 7/16), but I really think my problem lies in the strength and coordination of my ankle and knee bend to really press into the ice to get on the edge. I have (guilty) been kind of riding on the flats going straight right now because I just have not got my outside edges consistent enough. I am working on them on the circle and I am improving, and my inside edges are pretty good. But, for example, I cannot even really get the nerve up to do a swing roll at this point. So, my question is probably dumb, but I thought in general the deeper ROH made catching an edge easier? Does the fact that these blades are more narrow mean that with a shallower ROH I just might feel more comfortable to press into the edge? Sorry to sound so dopey, but I really am considering it and would like your feedback. My coach really wanted me to give the 7/16 a try, but my blade sharpener had mentioned that I may find it a bit too grabby and that he would be happy to change it on my first sharpening and that is coming up, I also wondered if the shallower hollow would make my snowplow a little easier (right now it does feel "grabby", even after 20 hours with them).

The OP on this thread has made me realize that this is really a major change, even for an experienced skater, and if there is something I can do to make the transition easier I think that is only logical to give it a try, especially if I have given the other ROH a fair shot and the particular issues I have could be helped.

Offline nicklaszlo

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Re: !
« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2017, 04:54:45 AM »
(actually you should never be skating on flats even when you are doing forward stroking)

What about a straight line lift?

Offline icedancer

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Re: !
« Reply #30 on: February 02, 2017, 11:30:28 AM »
What about a straight line lift?

Hmmm. Maybe.
 :D

Offline icedancer

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Re: !
« Reply #31 on: February 02, 2017, 11:38:16 AM »
Thanks you for the feedback Icedancer. I have considered going back to the 1/2" ROH like I had on my old blades (currently on a 7/16), but I really think my problem lies in the strength and coordination of my ankle and knee bend to really press into the ice to get on the edge. I have (guilty) been kind of riding on the flats going straight right now because I just have not got my outside edges consistent enough. I am working on them on the circle and I am improving, and my inside edges are pretty good. But, for example, I cannot even really get the nerve up to do a swing roll at this point. So, my question is probably dumb, but I thought in general the deeper ROH made catching an edge easier? Does the fact that these blades are more narrow mean that with a shallower ROH I just might feel more comfortable to press into the edge? Sorry to sound so dopey, but I really am considering it and would like your feedback. My coach really wanted me to give the 7/16 a try, but my blade sharpener had mentioned that I may find it a bit too grabby and that he would be happy to change it on my first sharpening and that is coming up, I also wondered if the shallower hollow would make my snowplow a little easier (right now it does feel "grabby", even after 20 hours with them).

The OP on this thread has made me realize that this is really a major change, even for an experienced skater, and if there is something I can do to make the transition easier I think that is only logical to give it a try, especially if I have given the other ROH a fair shot and the particular issues I have could be helped.

Oh I think the difference here is the lingo - to me, "catch an edge" is another way to say that they are grabby, or sometimes I might use that expression when my slimline (or really any) blade falls into someone else's deep edge groove and puts me off balance.

Because of the slimline, the ROH does not mean the same as it does on the fatter freestyle blade.  So a .5 ROH on a dance blade is actually less shallow than on a freestyle blade.  I can't explain the physics to you but there are people on this list that can - and I have to leave for work but trust me, it is different.  My guess is that your blade guy knows that which is why he said they might be too grabby (and it sounds like they are) -

So being on a good edge is different than catching an edge.

When people do figures they often use a 1 inch or even 1 1/2 inch ROH because it helps them stay on the edge - I think of it this way: when they are on an outside edge, say, they are right over the edge and because of the flatter ROH that other edge is actually further away than it would be if they are in a deeper ROH....

Ooh, this is hard to explain but I think you "catch" my drift!

Offline Ethereal Ice

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Re: !
« Reply #32 on: February 02, 2017, 03:35:01 PM »

Ooh, this is hard to explain but I think you "catch" my drift!

I totally catch your drift and thank you for the feedback. I think I will have one more conversation with my coach about it but I am leaning heavily (no pun intended ) in the direction of changing to a half inch.

On another note, I did have another great skate today with my new blades. I am in love with their "turny-ness " They love to turn and it is so much easier for me. As a newbie on those really basic blades I had, I had to work so hard to find that sweet spot, even though I have to check myself more firmly with these, I love having blades that are so easy to turn. I am, overall, very happy I decided to switch.

Offline Loops

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2017, 06:02:58 AM »
Loops on your Vision Synchros did they come like that with the shaved down drag pick (like figure blades or just a little bit?) or had someone done that to them?  Curious.



When people do figures they often use a 1 inch or even 1 1/2 inch ROH because it helps them stay on the edge - I think of it this way: when they are on an outside edge, say, they are right over the edge and because of the flatter ROH that other edge is actually further away than it would be if they are in a deeper ROH....


On said patch blades, I did have a 1.5" grind. And it did make a HUGE difference in holding the edge.  Those blades, also are a bit wider than freestyle blades, so, by the logic you gave regarding a 1/2"grind on slimlines being shallower relative to freestyle blades, that 1.5 would actually have been deeper (?).  This is interesting in light of a discussion I had with our sharpener the other day.  He was surprised by my supremes (which are dovetailed), and we got on the subject of "difficult blades to sharpen", and I mentioned parabolics.  Here, people go on about the shape and how that in theory, helps turns, but his first reaction was that the grind would be different at the toe/tail relative to the middle.  What kind of an effect would *that* have do you think?  Probably a topic for another thread though.

And, on the topic of Supremes, Query thought they may have a more aggressive toepick....I went with them, because they are cross cut, and tbh, I don't think they're any more or less aggressive than my old Professionals.  They certainly make smaller holes in the ice (thereby saving me getting shouted at) than did the straight-cut monsters on my vision synchros......

Offline lutefisk

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #34 on: February 05, 2017, 08:26:52 AM »
When people do figures they often use a 1 inch or even 1 1/2 inch ROH because it helps them stay on the edge - I think of it this way: when they are on an outside edge, say, they are right over the edge and because of the flatter ROH that other edge is actually further away than it would be if they are in a deeper ROH....



On said patch blades, I did have a 1.5" grind. And it did make a HUGE difference in holding the edge.  Those blades, also are a bit wider than freestyle blades, so, by the logic you gave regarding a 1/2"grind on slimlines being shallower relative to freestyle blades, that 1.5 would actually have been deeper (?).  This is interesting in light of a discussion I had with our sharpener the other day.  He was surprised by my supremes (which are dovetailed), and we got on the subject of "difficult blades to sharpen", and I mentioned parabolics.  Here, people go on about the shape and how that in theory, helps turns, but his first reaction was that the grind would be different at the toe/tail relative to the middle.  What kind of an effect would *that* have do you think?  Probably a topic for another thread though.


Out of curiosity, how difficult is it to switch back and forth between patch blades and your "normal" blades?  For me, switching between my current boots/blades and my nearly identical old boots/blades (retained for outdoor skating) takes a good 15 minutes and that's with very similar equipment.

Offline icedancer

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #35 on: February 05, 2017, 03:28:00 PM »

On said patch blades, I did have a 1.5" grind. And it did make a HUGE difference in holding the edge.  Those blades, also are a bit wider than freestyle blades, so, by the logic you gave regarding a 1/2"grind on slimlines being shallower relative to freestyle blades, that 1.5 would actually have been deeper (?).  This is interesting in light of a discussion I had with our sharpener the other day.  He was surprised by my supremes (which are dovetailed), and we got on the subject of "difficult blades to sharpen", and I mentioned parabolics.  Here, people go on about the shape and how that in theory, helps turns, but his first reaction was that the grind would be different at the toe/tail relative to the middle.  What kind of an effect would *that* have do you think?  Probably a topic for another thread though.


Yeah, I don't know how that would go with the patch blades at 1.5" ROH... I just can't wrap my mind around it!

I know I saw somewhere some very graphic drawings regarding blades and ROH - I will maybe try to find it.

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #36 on: February 05, 2017, 08:33:46 PM »
I know I saw somewhere some very graphic drawings regarding blades and ROH - I will maybe try to find it.

Here is one.

  http://www.skateny.com/sharpening/s_hollowmath.jpg

By the definitions in that diagram, depth of hollow is greater for smaller ROH. Which is the way I think of it.

However, a "deeper grind" has more than one meaning. It could mean the depth of hollow.

It could also mean the amount of metal removed during a grind, which can be much more, since many sharpeners, especially hockey sharpeners, are taught to remove extra metal to get rid of nicks. That can be arbitrarally large. For that matter, if your blade is already almost sharp, it could be less than the depth of hollow too. This second definition is very important, because the blade life is usually inversely proportional to the amount of metal removed, because you only have so much metal to lose before the blade geometry becomes worthless.


Offline Loops

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #37 on: February 06, 2017, 05:06:07 AM »
So I just saw that the first part of my most recent post got eaten somehow.

Icedancer- My Vision Synchros came that way.  I made a poor word choice when I said "shaved".  MK talks about their "angled" drag pick.  It's angled all right...and never where I wanted it to be!  Then I said somehting about having to dig out my old Silver Tests to see how the picks compared.  I don't recall how much of a drag pick those blades have......



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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #38 on: February 06, 2017, 05:12:50 AM »
Lutefisk- transitioning was never a problem.  The blades feel completely different, because they're so flat.  Skating on them is more like skating on rental skates, in that you skid very easily.  At least that's what I recall.  My blades are now unmounted and haven't been used in years.  I'm hoarding them though, just in case I ever get the chance!

Also, on a patch session, you never really skated to the same degree.  Stroking was done around the edges of the rink, as close to the wall as possible to keep the ice clean.  Then you were more or less scribing circles, or skating your 8's/serpentines.  So it's never like you were doing fast fancy footwork or racing around the rink.  The skating is different.  Golly I miss it!

Offline davincisop

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #39 on: May 03, 2017, 05:22:14 PM »
Reviving this thread because I finally got my dance skates and have skated on them about 5 times now, about a total of maybe 8 hours.

The first day was SUPER weird. It felt like I couldn't hold any edge and that I was sliding. I ended up having to leave the them to get the toes stretched a bit. I got back on them this past Saturday and the widening helped immensely. I got on a public so I just stroked around to find my center and such. I'm having to really learn was "Skating through your heels" means, and out of habit going backwards I keep trying to rise to the toes which doesn't work! I ended up shifting my right blade a smidge and it made ALL the difference. Going backwards is still awkward because I am always worried I'm going to go off my heel (did this in freestyles too so it's nothing new), and I'm still fighting rising to the toe going backwards. So it's a work in progress. But I managed an ok scratch spin in them yesterday and today, spinning feels very very weird, but I have to get used to it on them since I plan on competing free dance and such in them. Next week I plan to put the freestyles back on just so I can get comfortable going back and forth in my skates. But right now MITF and Dance are going to be done in my dance skates.


The back threes are going to be my downfall. I'm still barely managing them in freestyles bc I keep tensing and rising to my toe, and it's even MORE pronounced in my dance skates..... coach is going to have a field day tomorrow.

Offline Ethereal Ice

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #40 on: May 07, 2017, 03:30:21 PM »
As the newbie with dance blades, I am happy to update as well. I continue to progress in my skating, but switching blades was definitely a progression slower-downer in some ways. But there is the fact that I am learning to manage higher level blades, and that in itself is progress to me. I cannot say I am back to where I was, skill wise, before I switched blades last December, because I am actually more advanced in some things. A month or so ago my stroking with pretty extension and one foot glides finally came back consistently,  this month my front crossovers are improving, I am finally able to find my outside edges and get a bit of a lean and underpush going. I am working on back crossovers a bit better than I was in December.  My two foot turns, both front and back, are greatly improved since last year, and I am managing a decent two foot spin from time to time. Probably the coolest thing is my T stops are looking awesome on both sides at greater speeds, much better than prior to my switching blades.

Overall I am still a bit intimidated by the speed generated when I skate backwards, it has been my biggest challenge since switching blades. It is getting better, but I am definitely not as comfortable with back skating (swizzles, stroking etc ) as I was prior, I simply have not gotten comfortable with the rapid acceleration these blades have compared to my others. Still very glad I switched early in the game. There are some much higher level skaters who have told me they would be scared to switch, I think I just did not have the experience to notice as much of as difference.

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Re: !
« Reply #41 on: May 07, 2017, 08:14:47 PM »
When people do figures they often use a 1 inch or even 1 1/2 inch ROH because it helps them stay on the edge - I think of it this way: when they are on an outside edge, say, they are right over the edge and because of the flatter ROH that other edge is actually further away than it would be if they are in a deeper ROH....

Jaya Kanal had a recorded video conversation with Mike Cunningham, regarding Figures blade sharpening:

  https://somaticsport.atavist.com/itfigures

I seem to recall a different discussion in which Mike explained that the flatter (less curved, shallower depth) hollow was in part to simulate the effect of older figure blades, which were wider than current figure skating blades. Which I suppose would also make it easier to stay on one or another edge.

But what do figure blades have to do with Dance blades? True, they both de-emphasize the toepick, but Dance blades usually have a deeper hollow (as Mike explains) - to compensate for the thin-line bottom, which effectively makes the blade thinner (so you need a deepr hollow to get the same edge angles), whereas figure blades are often sharpened with a flatter hollow.

So Dance and Figure blades seem like completely different beasties.

P.S. When Mike said he has been sharpening blades for 100 years he wasn't being serious. It's only about 50. Not long at all. :)

P.P.S. Mike is a very interesting person to talk to, if you get a chance. I took some lessons from Jaya, BTW - but only basic Freestyle moves, not Dance or Figures.

Offline Ethereal Ice

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #42 on: May 08, 2017, 09:03:10 PM »
After reading Query's post above, I wanted to add to my update that I ended up keeping my 7/16 ROH after all (I had gone on and on earlier about possibly switching back to 1/2" that I had on my previous blades). Some assistance from my coach helped me to manage some of the "grabbiness" that I was feeling, it was my errors, not the blades. Though I have essentially gotten used to the narrowness and deeper ROH, I still "feel" more in these blades, they are not as forgiving of bad quality ice as my others.

It was interesting that when my husband got his custom Harlicks, same dance blade as mine, the sharpener they use did choose the 1/2" ROH for him since he is a newbie too, even more so than me (way less skating hours because it took so long to get him skates that fit). Anyway, it was a good choice, he was comfy with them from the get go and is making rapid progress on his basic elements.

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #43 on: May 08, 2017, 09:55:14 PM »
Ethereal Ice, what dance blades did you get? Not all Dance blades are thinline. E.g., MK Dance are, but Ultima Dance are not, last I knew.

Regardless, as long as you don't jump, I bet you come to love them. It just takes time to get used to everything.

BTW, I wouldn't keep changing back and forth between hollow radii. Every time you switch, you waste a huge amount of metal, and thereby reduce blade lifetime.

Also, depending on how and whether the sharpener (slightly) dulls the blades after sharpening them, and whether or not he/she uses a "fine grit" wheel, both 1/2" and 7/16" can feel quite sharp. Of course, if the sharpener leaves them super-sharp, you may not be able to walk off-ice at all without blade guards on, else you bend the edge. Which is why most sharpeners either dull the edge a bit, and/or use a medium grit wheel.

I used to like my blades. But it is so much more convenient to be able to walk short distances off the ice, especially since I started working as a rink guard. Many coaches find that convenient too. Rink guards and coaches come on and off the ice too often to do otherwise. The truth is, I think I used super-sharp blades to compensate for poor body alignment. If you align everything right, you don't need to be nearly as sharp.

OTOH, I simply cannot skate at all well on our rental skates. They feel like they have no edge, and I slip and slide all over the place. I am very confused about how some of the LTS students manage as well as they do on rentals. I guess that means I am still not aligned quite right. Maybe it is good practice to skate on dull blades?

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #44 on: May 09, 2017, 12:07:49 PM »

 The truth is, I think I used super-sharp blades to compensate for poor body alignment. If you align everything right, you don't need to be nearly as sharp.


I think that this is very common for many skaters. Good observation, and I agree.
Bill Schneider