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Author Topic: Matrix Blades anyone?  (Read 344 times)

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Offline Seren

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Matrix Blades anyone?
« on: August 29, 2017, 09:52:07 AM »
Hello!

I am buying new skates and am torn between two options. My skate tech is recommending either Matrix Nova (it's the new Matrix blade- comparable to the gold star) while several coaches have recommended Gold Seals. I keep going back and forth about them. Does anyone have any input on Matrix blades or the upper level Matrix blades vs Gold Seals?


Thank you!!!

Offline Query

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Re: Matrix Blades anyone?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2017, 11:53:28 AM »
The Jackson Ultima Matrix blades are stainless steel, but all the Wilson blades I've seen are not, so they rust more easily. (But I've not looked at the high end (Revolution) Wilson blades. It's possible they have done something to reduce rust.) But if you take good very care of your blades, rust probably won't be an issue.

But I've used neither of the models you are talking about, and am not good enough.

In general, Jackson Ultima blades, including Matrix blades, have tended to have less roll distance between the sweet spot (point up front at which rocker curvature changes) and the toe pick than the MK and Wilson blades I've seen, so you need more precise control. It took me a long time to make that transition - but maybe a better and/or younger skater could make it more quickly. Also, most of the Wilson blades have two sweet spots up front rather than one - if you are used to that, maybe you prefer it.

Finally, Gold Seal blades are tapered side-honed (non-uniform thickness), which means a less-than-world-class sharpener may mess them up in several ways more easily than flat parallel-side blades like the Ultima blades. Of course, some people prefer tapered, side-honed blades. (You can order them parabolic cut instead of tapered, BTW.)

(Tapered to Wilson means they are thicker in the back; side-honed usually means they are thicker at the bottom, like a dovetail routered piece, though the variation only applies to the bottom of the blade, where the chrome plating has been ground away. That presents a lot of challenges,to the sharpener regarding alignment, consistency down the blade, edge even-ness, etc. Your average sharpener trained mostly on hockey skates isn't used to that, and even most figure skate sharpeners aren't aware of the  problems, and sometimes make mistakes. They may need to buy and spend time using unusual tools like micrometers or high precision calipers, as well as a tool that measures the normally right angle across the edges against the part of the sides of the blade (higher up) that has NOT been ground off to create non-uniform thickness, and they need to verify that thickness and edge angles of the blade varies in the correct and consistent fashion, because the blade gets thinner as you grind off more metal - if they take off more in one place than another along the length, you end up with a wavy inconsistent thickness and edge angle pattern. Even for those of us that sharpen our own blades, on the hand-held sharpeners that have a gap that the blade sticks through to touch the sharpening stone, like Pro-Filer sharpeners, I think you may need to work harder at getting things right, because the gap size has to adapt to the thickness of the blade at each point, which would be hard with Pro-Filer - I've never tried to sharpen such blades. All in all, unless you really like tapering or parabolic cut and side-honing, it seems like a lot of trouble, but Wilson claims it is wonderful - in particular that tapered blades are faster, parabolic blades "center" better, and side honed blades have sharper edges at any given ROH.)


Offline FigureSpins

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Re: Matrix Blades anyone?
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2017, 02:24:06 PM »
I saw the Nova blade at a trade show and it felt more sturdy than it looked.  However, it's the equivalent of the MK Gold Star, not the JW Gold Seal blade.  (The Matrix Supreme is is the Gold Seal equivalent.)  The Matrix blades are lighter than the traditional Gold Seals.  They're comparable in weight to the Revolution or Paramount blades.

The Nova has an 7' rocker radius, Gold Star has a 7' rocker radius, but the Gold Seal has an 8' rocker radius. 

I feel that, at the point of just learning axel, camel and spin variations, the 7' rocker is better.  It seems to help more with spins, IME with skaters at the Freeskate 4-6 levels.   (For the Axel, there are lots of back spins and the shorter rocker helps with jump takeoffs.)
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Offline Christy

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Re: Matrix Blades anyone?
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2017, 03:44:00 PM »
I've had Matrix Elite blades for the past 4 years and love them because they stay sharp for at least 50 hours between sharpenings. The downside of the Matrix blades is that not every sharpener can sharpen them.

Offline Query

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Re: Matrix Blades anyone?
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2017, 12:25:10 PM »
The downside of the Matrix blades is that not every sharpener can sharpen them.

That's a great point. They simply don't fit into some blade-holding jigs, because it sticks out above a certain point. Paramount blades have the same issue.

Maybe that is a good thing!  ::>) It is my personal opinion that second class professional skate techs, as well as otherwise great skate techs who don't sharpen enough figure skating blades to warrant buying the specialized jigs, shouldn't be sharpening expensive figure skating blades. There are too many ways to mess up. If I didn't sharpen my own blades, I wouldn't go to a tech who lacked the proper gear to do it right.

Offline Christy

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Re: Matrix Blades anyone?
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2017, 07:39:31 PM »
That's a great point. They simply don't fit into some blade-holding jigs, because it sticks out above a certain point. Paramount blades have the same issue.

Maybe that is a good thing!  ::>) It is my personal opinion that second class professional skate techs, as well as otherwise great skate techs who don't sharpen enough figure skating blades to warrant buying the specialized jigs, shouldn't be sharpening expensive figure skating blades. There are too many ways to mess up. If I didn't sharpen my own blades, I wouldn't go to a tech who lacked the proper gear to do it right.

Not always the way as I had my blades sharpened by someone with the specialized jig who did such an awful job that even my usual skate tech couldn't fix them.

Offline Query

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Re: Matrix Blades anyone?
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2017, 02:40:38 PM »
Not always the way as I had my blades sharpened by someone with the specialized jig who did such an awful job that even my usual skate tech couldn't fix them.

Nova and Gold Seal both very expensive. Maybe your skate tech is steering you towards what gives him/her the highest profit margin. :) Does your coach have an opinion? He or she knows how you skate, and what specific issues you have in your spins. At those prices, it seems like it would be well worth asking.

Online tstop4me

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Re: Matrix Blades anyone?
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2017, 08:07:18 AM »
I'm in a similar situation myself.  My coach is recommending Gold Seal; but I'm considering an alternative (but Paramount, not Matrix).

(1) With respect to choice of a blade pattern, your coach is in a better position to guide you than your skate tech.  Unless your coach is very young, however, she's likely to be familiar only with the MK and Wilson models she grew up with:  they have been around the longest, and they are the de facto standards.

(2) The issue then is whether you should buy the actual model MK or Wilson blade recommended by your coach, or a "similar" blade offerred by a newer manufacturer (such as Ultima, Eclipse, or Paramount).  And this is where skate techs have a different perspective.  As far as I know, there is no published data comparing different brands and models.  So all I have is anecdotal evidence from several experienced skate techs that I've chatted with (and two are figure skating coaches as well).  Their consensus is that the production quality and consistency of the newer brands are higher than that of MK and Wilson, and the prices of the newer brands offer better value than that of MK and Wilson.  I consider these secondary factors.  For me, the major advantage of the newer brands over MK and Wilson, however, is that the newer brands offer their top models with stainless steel runners; whereas, the blades on all MK and Wilson (including their Revolution series) are made from carbon steel.  The major advantage of stainless steel over carbon steel is not improved rust resistance but improved edge life, leading to longer intervals between sharpenings [improved rust resistance is an added plus, but not dispositive for me since I dry and store my blades carefully and have never had an issue of rust on carbon steel blades].

The problem then arises is that although the newer manufacturers often advertise a particular blade model as "comparable to" or "patterned after" a particular MK or Wilson model, it is likely not identical.  They may have the same main rocker radius and the same pick design, but other factors (such as spin rocker radius, edge cross-section, blade thickness, and stanchion height) may vary.  What the impact of these other factors are on actual skate performance is often unknown.  But if your coach feels that a particular factor is important for you (such as spin rocker radius for me), check carefully how an alternative model compares with the MK or Wilson model in that regard.

(3) If your coaches are recommending Wilson Gold Seal, you should ask your skate tech why he is recommending the Ultima Matrix Nova and not another Ultima Matrix model nominally closer to a Gold Seal blade pattern.  I just checked the Ultima website:  they used to compare their blades to MK and Wilson models, but they no longer do. [ETA:  I just found that their brochures still do.  The Supreme is listed as comparable to Gold Seal, as mentioned in the post by FigureSpins.]

(4) In summary, you need to decide whether an alternative blade offers sufficient advantages over MK and Wilson models for you to take the chance. And check carefully on the blade parameters that your coach thinks are important to your skating.  We're talking pricey blades here.  At least Eclipse has a great marketing pitch:  they offer a 60-day full refund trial period.  Maybe others can comment:  I thought at one time Ultima offerred a shorter (maybe 30 day?) full refund trial period, but I don't see that on their website anymore [perhaps they are well established enough by now they no longer need to].