You are viewing as a Guest.

Welcome to skatingforums - over 10 years of figure skating discussions for skaters, coaches, judges and parents!

Please register to be able to access all features of this message board.

Author Topic: Blade alignment issue  (Read 422 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Anniina

  • Wearing Rental Skates
  • *
  • Joined: Feb 2017
  • Posts: 5
  • Total GOE: 0
Blade alignment issue
« on: January 23, 2018, 02:58:00 PM »
Hello fellow skaters and skating enthusiasts!

I recently got new (well, new to me, they are gently used) boots. They are a full size smaller and bit narrower than my previous boots. The fit is great and I would love to wear them, but my left side boot or blade is giving me trouble.

The blades were mounted in a great pro-shop and they also sharpened the new blades (as the old ones were too long for the smaller boots). As soon as I stepped on the ice, I knew that something was wrong with my left side skate. The outside edge was a total mess and I could only make it halfway through the edge before it skidded. I sent the skate back and the pro-shop mounted the blade again to a slightly different position and also sharpened it again. I tried the skates, still could not hold that outside edge and the blade made awful sound and left behind piles of snow when I tried to skate backwards.

My left ankle overpronates a bit so my coach suggested getting insoles to support my feet. I did that and while the new insoles (custom Footbalances) are really comfortable, they did not solve the issue.

I don’t know what to do. I tried shifting the blade a bit towards inside myself but the problem persisted. The nearest pro-shop is a six-hour ride away and I cannot afford to do that trip right now. It is also clear that mailing the skates is quite useless. So, do you have any suggestions? Are there something I could try to fix the problem myself or should I just try to get the time and money to visit the pro-shop?

To clarify, the problem is only with left side skate. My pronation is not too bad, I do not use any special insoles in my regular shoes and my old skates were just fine without those insoles. I am an adult(ish) skater, working on my axel, so I used to be able to hold all my edges and go backwards as well.

Thank you all in advance for any suggestions or thoughts on this. I hope I did not forgot anything important and that you can make sense of what I wrote as English is not my native language...

Offline tstop4me

  • On the Edge
  • ***
  • Joined: Oct 2015
  • Location: USA
  • Posts: 556
  • Total GOE: 139
  • Conserve Angular Momentum
Re: Blade alignment issue
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2018, 05:40:16 PM »
There are many issues, some of which require proper tools and experience to resolve.

(a) First check the blade itself.  Make sure the runner is straight from pick to heel.  Make sure the body of the blade is orthogonal to the heel and sole plates.  Any peculiarities?

(b) Check the sharpening of the edges.  The edge height discrepancy between the inside edge and the outside edge should be no greater than .002 inch.  Any peculiarities?

(c) Check the sole and heel of the boot.  Any peculiarities?

(d) Check the seating of the sole and heel mounting plates of the blade to the sole and heel of the boot.  Any peculiarities?

If everything checks out, you may have to shim the blade.  But you need to know what you are doing, or you can make things worse.

By the way, what boot and blade do you have?

Offline Anniina

  • Wearing Rental Skates
  • *
  • Joined: Feb 2017
  • Posts: 5
  • Total GOE: 0
Re: Blade alignment issue
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2018, 09:39:29 AM »
Thank you for answering, tsop4me.

The blade and sharpening seem fine to me. I also asked my coach to check and she did not notice anything wrong with them. I balanced a popsicle stick to check that the edges are level and everything seemed to be alright.

Nothing unusual with the boot either. The boot was checked in the proshop before mounting and rechecked before mounting the blade again which probably suggests that the fault is in my foot, posture or something like that. It feels a bit weird because I have not experienced anything like this with my previous skates (these are my third pair of what we call ”rink skates”, and I also have a not-so-gently used pair for pond skating).

There is a gap (around 2mm-3mm) between the sole mounting plate and the boot’s sole. The gap is on the back of the front mounting blade where the boot’s sole starts to curve up towards the heel. There is a gap on the right boot on the same place, though it is much smaller, only 1mm. I guess this could at least contribute to the issue and/or have something to do with the blade’s alignment.

Shimming is something I probably won’t be able to do by myself, at least not if I want good results. That and the pro checking the blade alignment with my foot in the boot could probably help so I guess that it is time to visit family living near the shop...

I have Riedell 435s in size 5 with Coronation Ace blades (9.5”). My previous skates were Riedell 255s in size 6 with CoroAces (10”).

Offline tstop4me

  • On the Edge
  • ***
  • Joined: Oct 2015
  • Location: USA
  • Posts: 556
  • Total GOE: 139
  • Conserve Angular Momentum
Re: Blade alignment issue
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2018, 02:24:01 PM »
The popsicle stick trick is not very sensitive.  But, if you, your coach, and your skate tech don't believe there's any defect in the blade, boot, or sharpening, then you have done as much as you can for now.  I have flat feet and strongly pronate.  The first step is a suitable insole, which you have apparently.  The next is to move the blade to the inside, which you have done apparently.  You can move it only so far before your balance is thrown off too much (especially bad for spins).  That is, offsetting the longitudinal axis of the blade from the longitudinal axis of the boot by 1 to 3 mm is OK, with probably 5 mm as an extreme offset.  After that you need to shim the blade.  Verify with your skate tech that he knows how to do that.  Also, is there a rink near your skate tech?  You will probably need at least 2 or 3 tries to find the right height of the shims.  That is, the skate tech inserts trial shims, you skate around to see whether you hit your edges correctly.  If not, the skate tech inserts different trial shims, you skate around again .....It's easiest if the skate tech can be present with you at the rink, but that's not always possible.  Good luck!


Offline Anniina

  • Wearing Rental Skates
  • *
  • Joined: Feb 2017
  • Posts: 5
  • Total GOE: 0
Re: Blade alignment issue
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2018, 04:12:26 PM »
Hello again,
I tried moving the blade one last time, as a desperate act to avoid the trip to proshop, and actually had some success. The blade is still not 100% right but it doesn’t make the awful noise anymore. I can feel it dragging a bit, especially on back inside edges but at this point I am not anymore sure if it is the blade or just me, overanalysing everything. It might be psychological as I have gotten a bit wary of the left foot during this process but I think I’ll try to skate with this setup a few more hours. Nothing hurts so I guess it is not too urgent.

I might still need to go and see the tech but at least I can actually skate now.
Thanks for advice any case, now I know what are the options in case my DIY corrections are not enough.

Offline tstop4me

  • On the Edge
  • ***
  • Joined: Oct 2015
  • Location: USA
  • Posts: 556
  • Total GOE: 139
  • Conserve Angular Momentum
Re: Blade alignment issue
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2018, 11:00:01 PM »
Hello again,
I tried moving the blade one last time, as a desperate act to avoid the trip to proshop, and actually had some success. The blade is still not 100% right but it doesn’t make the awful noise anymore. I can feel it dragging a bit, especially on back inside edges but at this point I am not anymore sure if it is the blade or just me, overanalysing everything. It might be psychological as I have gotten a bit wary of the left foot during this process but I think I’ll try to skate with this setup a few more hours. Nothing hurts so I guess it is not too urgent.

I might still need to go and see the tech but at least I can actually skate now.
Thanks for advice any case, now I know what are the options in case my DIY corrections are not enough.
Glad you're making progress.  Here's an article that I found informative and useful:

http://www.aapsm.org/pdf/humble-skatinga.pdf

There's a lot of garbage out in the net on the topic of boot-and-blade alignment; but this article is written by a sports podiatrist. 

Offline Query

  • Perfectly Centered
  • ******
  • Joined: Aug 2010
  • Location: Maryland, USA
  • Posts: 2,833
  • Total GOE: 97
  • Gender: Male
    • mgrunes.com
Re: Blade alignment issue
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2018, 12:29:30 AM »
If you use the popsicle stick method, you want to visually verify that the angles of the stick to the sides of the blade are equal (right angles). If you want to be extra careful, bring something with a right angle corner to each side to touch, to verify that it truly is a right angle.

However, if you have a very fancy blade, it may be side honed in such a way that the angles are not right angles. E.g., the bottom of the blade may have been ground wider than a few mm above it, which some people call a dovetail shape - it makes your edges a little sharper, but is fairly difficult to sharpen right. However, the two angles (on each side) should still be equal.

You also need to confirm that the popsicle stick is not warped. Place it against a flat surface or a straight edge and see.

I personally don't like a blade that is too far offset to one side. It makes it hard to spin, which is already hard for me. I personally find it better to modify the inside of the boot. But it is a very common method, which will eventually make you skate straight.

If I understand correctly what a Footbalance does, it may not correct your problem. It molds to your feet - which is great for many people, creating equal pressure on all parts on the bottom of the foot, and mostly preventing the collapse of your arch. It might be great if your only problem is that the shape and tilt of the bottom of your feet doesn't match the tilt of the top of the footbed. But to correct over-pronation, some people may need extra material under the center of their arch, or under the entire arch. Try adding adhesive tape or foam (athletic tape or moleskin) to your Footbalances, or to any insoles, under the side of the foot which collapses. (For reasons I still can't understand, some people find it helps to add material to the opposite side instead... Try it if the other fails.) Another issue is that it must fit tightly, and not rock around as you move. Another thing to try is moleskin stuck to the inside side of the boot, above or below your ankle, on the side your foot collapses towards.

BTW, are there any parts of the boot below your ankle that feel like there is light pressure or no pressure? You can add tape or foam there too, so that you don't lose control of the boot because nothing prevents it from moving around.

Basically, just keep playing around, until something works. Eventually, something should.

http://mgrunes∙com/mybookmark.html#ska

Offline Anniina

  • Wearing Rental Skates
  • *
  • Joined: Feb 2017
  • Posts: 5
  • Total GOE: 0
Re: Blade alignment issue
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2018, 06:44:41 AM »
I did a bit more experimenting but I felt like I wasn’t making any progress and only wasting ice time. So I gave up, bought train tickets and made a day trip to a city five hours away. I did not go to the proshop that originally mounted the blades as I was finding it hard to trust them to get the blades right. Instead I went to see a shoemaker who is really experienced in everything related to figure skates, from rebuilding boots to mounting and sharpening blades.

He could immediately see that there was a problem. The blade that I had fiddled was almost straight but surprisingly, the other blade was so warped that he had hard time believing that a proshop could mount it that way. There was also something sketchy on the sharpening but it took even him quite some time to figure it out. I don’t think I am able to explain what exactly was wrong with the sharpening but the hollow was somehow twisted towards the tail of the blade.

It took him almost two hours to fix. He plugged the old holes, repositioned the blades and sharpened them to perfection. I got to watch him work and we had a good chat about the peculiarities of his trade. He was quite impressed that I came to see him from so far away and only charged me his normal fee for mounting and sharpening blades. I was prepared to pay him way more but me and my fridge are thankful that it was not as expensive as I thought it would be.

So yeah, now the blades feel good and I only need to learn to balance on the shorter blade. Because my previous boots were too big, my weight tended to be on my toes as I tried to push back to keep my heel in place. Now that I don’t need to push with my toes but am still doing it, it feels a bit like my toepick is too close to the ice. But it is getting better as I remember to keep my weight more on the heel. I found the sweet spot today and was able to do some toeloop combinations so I guess it’s all good now :)

And about the footbalances, I think there is two types of them: those that you warm in oven at home and step on them and they mold to your feet and then those that the shop selling them warms and makes you stand on them on a special pedestal to get the insole support your arches, or whatever needs supporting. I have those that the shop makes, and they are really rigid and actually support my arches. Of course, they are not orthotics but for a mild pronation they seem to work. I tried standind up on the floor and taking a picture of my ankles with and without the insoles and my left ankle is almost on a normal position with the insole.

Offline tstop4me

  • On the Edge
  • ***
  • Joined: Oct 2015
  • Location: USA
  • Posts: 556
  • Total GOE: 139
  • Conserve Angular Momentum
Re: Blade alignment issue
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2018, 07:09:17 AM »
....

He could immediately see that there was a problem. The blade that I had fiddled was almost straight but surprisingly, the other blade was so warped that he had hard time believing that a proshop could mount it that way. There was also something sketchy on the sharpening but it took even him quite some time to figure it out. I don’t think I am able to explain what exactly was wrong with the sharpening but the hollow was somehow twisted towards the tail of the blade.

....

Hey, glad to see your story has a happy ending.  Usually it takes experience and the right tools to diagnose the problem properly.  Out of curiosity, was the sketchy sharpening on the warped blade?  Because if the blade is warped, the hollow will naturally be screwed up when the blade is sharpened on a standard sharpener.

Offline Query

  • Perfectly Centered
  • ******
  • Joined: Aug 2010
  • Location: Maryland, USA
  • Posts: 2,833
  • Total GOE: 97
  • Gender: Male
    • mgrunes.com
Re: Blade alignment issue
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2018, 06:38:07 PM »
Sounds like your cobbler is a great resource! Does he coach? With such an analytic mind, he might be a great coach.

I hope he straightened the blade for you. A lot of skate techs hate doing that - because if the warp is over about 1 mm, the blade frequently breaks. Warped blades waste energy, and slow you down.

Warped blades don't have to be sharpened wrong. A lot of pro shops have a special jig that clamps the blade to be straight before sharpening it. I think, but am not sure, that most reasonably high end pro shops have that tool - though it may only work with figure blades, a relatively small fraction of most pro shop's business.

If you are that far from a good sharpening guy, you might be a good candidate for learning to sharpen your own blades. Sure it will take you longer than an experienced skate tech, maybe 5 - 10 minutes. It can cost you $100 or more for good purpose-made hand tools, and time to learn how to do it right. But if you plan to travel 5 hours each way to the cobbler, and wait in the shop til he becomes available, that's still an improvement. Sure, you have to learn to do it right, and if you don't, you can't place the blame anywhere but where it belongs. :)

You can shim the mounts to make it harder to reach your toe picks (but easier to reach your tail) - but maybe you could try skating with the blades as they are for a while, to see if you can get used to it, before playing around.
http://mgrunes∙com/mybookmark.html#ska

Offline Anniina

  • Wearing Rental Skates
  • *
  • Joined: Feb 2017
  • Posts: 5
  • Total GOE: 0
Re: Blade alignment issue
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2018, 11:06:24 AM »
Both blades had the same sketchy sharpening. I am not sure what caused the sharpening be that much off as the proshop usually does great work with both mounting and sharpening, but it sounds plausible that a warped blade causes the sharpening to be off as well.

I don’t think that the cobbler coaches, or even skates. He seems to be quite busy with his shop and I know several skaters who don’t let anyone but him touch their skates.

Sharpening my own blades could be nice but I think that for now I’ll opt for mailing my skates to be sharpened. There’s always someone else whose skates need sharpening too so we mail a few pairs a time to reduce cost

Today I felt almost normal with the skates. Backwards crossovers are still a bit hard but I have most of my jumps back and my spirals are better than ever. So probably no need to touch the mounts :)