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Author Topic: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition  (Read 3764 times)

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Offline Query

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(I apologize that a little of this duplicates what I put in other posts.)

At the suggestion of the boot technician I am studying from, I went to the Liberty Skate Competition in Aston, PA, to see people selling boots, yesterday.

Because it is the first regional competition of the season (I think), most boot makers sent major reps - often the master boot makers themselves, always people considered qualifed to fit their brand's boots.

Lacing boots the Russian Way

The Edea boot rep, David Ripp, President of Skates US, Inc., Edea's sole U.S. disributer, showed me that I don't know how to tie my shoes!

His boots, and most of the other boots brought by company reps to the Liberty Competition were laced the Russian way, like this:

The bottom length of lace goes outside the boot, not inside. After coming inwards from the outside through the holes, the lace goes through the holes inwards, from outside to inside and towards the center line of the boot, initially underneath, so the nearby part of the lace above the hole is sandwiched between the sides of the boot and the tongue. That locks it in place.

Then each half of the lace crosses diagonally upwards and across to the outside of the next set of holes, and again goes through the holes, outside to inside and towards the center line of the boot. And again. And so on.

The advantage of locking like this is that you do not have to use your fingers to lock down the lace against the holes, as you pull each level. You can let go of the lace at each hole level, without it slipping. To tighten each level, you pull the laces outwards (sideways) before locking it by pulling it forwards and across.

In retrospect, this is obviously so much better than what I have done, which is the exact opposite, inside to outside.

He uses very wide nylon laces, which hold the tension better than my cotton laces. He uses a brand that he says has a composition similar to parachute cord. Very wide is good - it spreads out the pressure on the fingers. If you use narrow nylon laces, you can put a lot of pressure on and maybe cut your fingers if you lace tight. It obviously also matters a lot that you keep the laces untwisted - twists effectively narrow the lace contact with your fingers.

With thin nylon laces, some people actually cut the skin on their fingers if they pull laces tight. I think it was the Harlick or GAM rep who told me that nylon laces are also harder on lace holes than cotton and cotton/nylon blend laces - but wide laces should fix that too. Honestly, I don't think it is common to damage holes too much - the GAM rep, former owner and boot maker, showed off cut-open GAM and Jackson boots, and showed me that there is a plastic? reinforcement layer under the lace holes that prevents them from being damaged too easily. BTW, GAM boots have a lot different construction from Jackson - he says every company makes boots quite differently.

I think wide laces are also a good alternative to using lace pullers, if your fingers are too delicate to pull laces tight.

David Ripp didn't have any laces longer than 120 inches, or I would have bought the size I need - 144".

Edea boots are by far the lightest figure skating boots available. Carbon Fiber cloth / resin construction, like very lightweight canoes, kayaks, high end surfboards and skis, and ultra-light aircraft. (High tech composite material technologies mostly come from the ultra-light marine construction, then migrate to ultralight aerospace applications.) He didn't choose to say what resin is used. The soles are fiberglass/honeycomb, to be lighter and absorb impact. David says these soles also hold screws better than leather, but he uses a different style screw, with a flatter bottom.

David Ripp was constantly busy while I was there, perhaps because no one else in the U.S. sells Edea, AFAIK. Although Edea boots come in only one width (C width at front, B width at back),  he says he can fit almost anyone by heating the boot.  Edea doesn't make real custom boots, but he claims heat shaping makes Edea boots Instant Custom Boots.

I tried a couple of pairs of Edea boots. He says I am one of the few people who can't be fit well to Edea. I thought that the carbon fibers were lengthened or shortened by heating with a heat gun, but from what he said in Aston, what happens is more along the lines that the woven fabric bends - so to do the equivalent of punching out a spot, he has to heat and fold fabric away from somewhere else. The advantage of only selling one width is that he can take all the sizes with him to events of this kind, even men's sizes. But in my case, one size was too short for their to be enough fabric in the toe box to punch out my big and little toe, and the next size up was way too big. I guess that means Edea boots aren't that much more adaptable than heat mold-able leather boots. Plus, only a few people in the world know how to reshape them, whereas a fair number of boot technicians know how to stretch leather. Edea boots do have a thin layer of leather on the outside.

Edea boots are now about as expensive as most company's custom boots, though they were somewhat on sale at the competition.

Edea black boots are more dark gray than black. The GAM rep said it is harder to dye leather black than white, so maybe that is the reason. None of the other boot reps than Edea were constantly busy, so I could talk to them a fair bit.

I have been wrong when I said all boots but Edea are primarily leather. Harlick's ultra-light boots only contain a thin layer of leather on the outside too. Though the Harlick rep preferred traditional leather boots, which are more durable and easier to shape. Several boot makers have changed available synthetic linings over the past few years - although Cambrille is now mostly out. There are some other synthetic elements in their boots too, though Don Klingbeil likes to boast that the only synthetic element in Klingbeil boots, unless you ask otherwise, are the foam padding he puts at the ankle bones. Heat moldable boots contain a lot of synthetic elements on the inside.

But only Edea uses ultra-lightweight high tech marine/aerospace materials like carbon fiber to make figure skates, so I still think figure skate technology is still only slightly beyond the dark ages.

Hockey boot makers understand modern composite construction much better.

Phil Kuhn, who owns Harlick, said he prefers their traditional leather boots over the ultra-lights. He says they are much more durable and are easier to shape.

GAM only sells leather boots (excluding what stiffens and reinforces the leather), for the same reason. Though I still think the boot makers love leather because they have spent a large part of a lifetime becoming master leather Craftsman. They won't experiment with hockey-like lightweight construction unless they have to.

The Harlick rep says some high level freestyle skaters say they prefer heavy boots and blades. It's hard and tiring to do fast footwork in them, but the extra momentum helps those particular skaters do difficult jumps, because the weight of the boots and blades carries a lot of angular momentum that helps them spin faster when the feet are pulled close to the body, which helps high level jumps. Interesting. But I would prefer lighter boots.

I didn't get full fits - I just wanted to know which company reps felt their boots could fit me. Some had to do a partial fit to figure that out, and Harlick did a fairly complete preliminary fit. All of the custom boot makers except the Reidell rep said their custom boots can fit anyone perfectly! (But Mike Cunningham, of Skater's Paradise, repping Jackson and augmenting the other GAM rep, is also a retailer, and sells multiple brands, thinks each boot company fits people with various types of feet more perfectly than some others.)

Reidell's rep told me that Jackson boots work well for my shape of feet. He thinks he could stretch Reidell boots to work in his own shop, but not elsewhere. I know from experience that boots that are stretched a lot don't stay stretched, and keep needing to be re-stretched, so I would hesitate to go with Reidells. Gam's rep agrees that Jackson boots work well for people with wide toes and thin heels, if you must stick with stock boots.

Klingbeil did not send the master boot maker, Don Klingbeil. They sent Victoria Zander. Maybe I'm being silly, but I would want to be fitted by the master if by anyone. Victoria says Klingbeil does not punch out the heel bones on boots before they ship them. But that people like me with bigger than average ankle bones should get double wide padding at the ankles - the person who fit my old boots didn't do that, a part of my problems with them, says Victoria.

Graf, Risport, SP Teri and WIFA didn't send a rep.

Some boot reps also showed off blades, but no one from the blade companies per se came.

I just talked about the Reidell Eclipse blades in

http://skatingforums.com/index.php/topic,1165.msg18495.html#msg18495

Paramount and Ultima Matrix 2 blades are both are very light, stainless steel runners glued to aluminum chasis. Ultima Matrix 2 are a very slightly heavier, because they reinforce the glue with bolts.

I saw an Ultima Matrix "Light" blade, which has a lot of the metal cut away from the support, somewhat like the "Revolution" blades that MK/Wilson is touting but which no one brought.

Heel height and ball bend

My old Klingbeil boots have, I think, heels that are too high to be comfortable. My coach showed me that when people bend their knees past a certain point, their rear ends stick out, which is bad form for ice dancers. She says high heels let you go down a little farther without sticking out, but as near as I can tell, that isn't true for me. I love to walk barefoot when I can, with no elevated heel.

Another role for high heels is that some people may jump or spin better with them.

Likewise, my old boots have a strong bend at the ball of the foot, so the toes curve upwards from the bend. I don't feel this is comfortable.

The Harlick rep said he had just given a high level (freestyle?) skater boots with a flat and level insole for the skater to stand on. So eliminating the elevated heel and the bend would have some precedent.

Custom Boots

General agreement is that I would be best off in custom boots. I have somewhat wider toes than average, somewhat narrower heels and higher arch than average, but more importantly, according to the Harlick rep, wider and taller instep than most people.

One thing is extremely clear. The master bootmakers and people who they train, fit people to their boots very differently, from one brand to the next. They modify tracings and measurements to create the custom last (actually, they mostly modify standard design lasts) This means that boot fitters must use fitting techniques appropriate to each brand of boot, if the boot has to be ordered.

For example, Harlick mostly sizes the boot when you stand with all your weight on both boots at the same time - which I don't think is ideal because if one leg is longer than the other - true of most people - it will cause your feet to be tilted to one side. Of course, the foot tracing expands when you put your weight on one foot, so Harlick expands the traced and measured foot, especially around the toes. They do that even if you send a mold of your feet - no one in the figure skate industry can use a foot mold to make a custom last, unlike some in the rest of the custom footwear industry.

The GAM rep fits people sitting down, but again with both feet on the floor at once.

It is possible the certain boot fitter, whom I should not name, who misfit me for my old custom Klingbeil boots, tried to use the another boot company's fit techniques to fit Klingbeil boots. I have met many people who say they were strongly misfit by him for Klingbeil custom boots. At least 5 of those became the customers of one of the areas leading sports podiatrists, and 2 of them coached me at one time or another. (On the other hand, some of his custom Graf boot customers were reasonably happy, and he sharpened blades well.)

Perhaps that is why none of the local (Maryland, near DC) skate retailers are eager to deal with Klingbeil - they all say we should go the 240 miles or so each way to the Klingbeil factory in Jamaica, NY, if we want Klingbeils.

I pointed this issue out to the Klingbeil rep. If they want to sell more Klingbeil boots, they need to train someone here who they trust. (Someone recently pointed out that it may be cheapest way to Jamaica may be to take Amtrak to New York, then a local train to a stop 2 blocks from Klingbeil.)

Klingbeil custom boots are more expensive than they used to be -  about $685 for typical men's boots, about $675 for typical lady's boots. They now charge extra for many of the deviations from the norm that used to be in the normal price, like notches and dance cut backs, and special materials. They are now probably slightly more expensive than Reidells, but not as expensive as Harlicks or S.P. Teris. Add in the cost of driving to Jamaica, NY, and they are fairly expensive.

Some custom Ice Dance boots are available with "rolled tops", meaning that the top of the boot is rolled in such a way that you can point the toes without having the boot dig hard into the Achilles tendon.

Offline Query

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Here is someone's video that shows the lacing pattern



I haven't found a video yet that shows how to tighten laces in this pattern.

Note that to loosen your skates, you need to loosen at each level, from the top down, because loosening the top level doesn't automatically loosen the next to top level. (That's the whole point - the lacing pattern locks the tightness in.)

I also neglected to mention the obvious - that it is a good idea to know the back of the skate against something a few times, before tightening to make sure your heel slips all the way against the back of the skate.

Offline Isk8NYC

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I think that lacing pattern is overkill and unnecessary.  I've had students with skates laced that way and they cannot lace up tightly.  It's too time-consuming for them to pull up every single section, so they don't open the throat enough to properly seat their foot or they end up with random tightness in spots..  I relace students' skates done that way becase I'd rather see them tie properly.  Retying skates and frustrated, tedious lacing is a waste.  They need proper tightness, not tourniquet tightness.  MHO

Creative idea, but overkill.
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Offline sarahspins

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My (now) 4yo's roller hockey skates were laced this way and I had to undo it.. it was way to hard to get them on him and tightened.  Personally I wouldn't want my own skates laced like that either - it would be asking for more trouble than it's worth. 

Offline jjane45

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Thank you for the detailed report and the video, Query. Will you be lacing this way from now on?

Offline aussieskater

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Mine and my DD's are laced opposite to the way in your video - the aglet is inserted into the hole underneath from the centre/tongue side, and emerges on the outside (ie: away from the tongue).  I do each "pair" of holes together (so left hole then matching right hole), rather than doing one full half of the lace then the other as the person did in the video.  Is this the "normal" way of lacing?

Offline Sushi

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A correct boot lacing is fundamental:
For keeping the foot in its natural position inside the boot For letting the boot work in a proper way, with no folds or wrong tongue displacements.

Method of Lacing:
The lacing from exterior, which means inserting the lace from up the hole, from outside to inside the boot, gives the following advantages:   
 
  • The lace makes no direct pressure on the foot instep
  • It fastens the boot homogeneously
  • The lace becomes self blocking.

At the hooks area we suggest to lace around the hooks from top down, resulting in:
  • a better function of the hook
  • lace self blocking
  • featuring a lace ā€˜Vā€™ shape to help flexions.

Anatomically, our feet are not symmetric. The inner part has larger volume, while the outer part, with withdrawn ankle has less volume. In all shoes the function of the tongue is protecting the foot instep and helping the leg flexions. In case of non correct lacing, it is natural that the tongue follows the anatomical foot shape, sliding outwards. To prevent this situation, on the professional styles we have studied a textile LOOP sewn in the joining area of the tongue. There are two ways of using the loop:

  • both laces go through the loop
  • only one lace goes through the loop and then twisted.

From Edea's website: http://www.edeaskates.com/en/istruzioni_montaggio_allacciatura.php

Offline AgnesNitt

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That's interesting. No surgeon's knot at the ankle. Or am I the only person who does that?
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Offline Kim to the Max

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Agnes: I do a simple overhand knot to "lock" the lacing of the eyelets before I lace my hooks. I do lace my hooks with the laces going over the top, but that's more because I like longer laces and that takes up some slack :) but now I am used to that and I don't think I could change!

Offline MadMac

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That's interesting. No surgeon's knot at the ankle. Or am I the only person who does that?

I always did an overhand knot at the ankle, but now I have the two hooks on the tongue which keep it from twisting. Don't seem to need the extra knot with these hooks.

Interesting topic -- everyone has their own preferences, secrets and even superstitions.
IIRC, there was a discussion here about which shoe or sock you put on first?  Well, I'm one who must do the left before the right. This carries over to the laces too. If I don't tie the left lace first, the right one just never is "right".  ???

Offline Sk8tmum

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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2011, 08:29:11 AM »
That's interesting. No surgeon's knot at the ankle. Or am I the only person who does that?


Nope, we were all taught to do that; the boot part gets pulled tight, and then the surgeon's knot to hold it there.  It's now being "passed down" as my kids and I show newbie parents how to lace up their kid's skating boots.  Still do it with the "goalposts" on the tongue of the Klings and the Riedells; the "goalposts" are above where the overhand knot goes.

Offline icefrog

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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2011, 09:59:55 AM »
Interesting about not fitting into Edeas, when the should fit everyone. I was also told I would never fit into them, but I could wear a semi custom wide with Riedell. The shop I ended up getting my boots wouldn't even try Riedells on me and only had me try on Jackson and SP Teri. There is an older boot fitter in the store I go to that complains about skates with plastic in them. Almost every company uses it and maybe I'm just not very educated, but what is wrong with having a tiny bit of material that's not leather?

Offline Query

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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2011, 12:18:12 PM »
Perhaps I like the extra tension because my boots are breaking down.

I'll see if I can stand the extra lacing and unlacing time.

All the demo boots I checked at the competition had this lacing pattern. Why, if so many people hate it?

I definitely love wide laces. So much easier on the fingers. Must look for them!

As mentioned elsewhere, I loved some ugly blue Riedell rental boots I tried with ski-boot-style ratcheted straps. Fast and easy to tighten, with great tightness control at each strap level.  But Riedell discontinued them long ago...

Offline davincisop

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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2011, 12:35:46 PM »
As mentioned elsewhere, I loved some ugly blue Riedell rental boots I tried with ski-boot-style ratcheted straps. Fast and easy to tighten, with great tightness control at each strap level.  But Riedell discontinued them long ago...

 Oh god, my rink still has those, and god knows how long they've had them. The buckles break all the time.

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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2011, 03:04:09 PM »
I re-laced by boots this way...just they way I like they grip and the laces don't undo or slip...However, if you are too tight, you will have to undo more laces in order to loosen.  I also use a butcher's knot after I've done two hooks (and I go over the tops of the hooks). Then I bend my ankle and do the top hooks. This gives me a lot more bend.
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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2011, 03:43:01 PM »
And for you that are curious here is a website on how to lace shoes/boots.
http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/lacingmethods.htm
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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2011, 05:25:33 PM »
Colored skating laces.
http://www.shoelacesexpress.com/figureskate.asp

And general lace discussions from Skater's landing.
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Offline blue111moon

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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2011, 06:55:24 AM »
As far as I know, there's nothing "Russian" about  Edea's lacing pattern.   The thoroughly American guy I bought my first pair of real skates (Oberhamers, if anyone remembers those, made in the USA) from thirty years ago showed me how to lace them and I've done it that way ever since.  I don't notice that it takes me any longer to lace my skates than anyone else but then I've never noticed how anyone else's skates are laced and I've had thirty years of practice.

Also, one correction for the OP:  Liberty is an Open Non-qualifying competition, not a regional.  Regionals are in the fall and are the qualifying competitions for Sectionals which are qualifying for Nationals.  To enter Regionals you have to represent a club from within that particular Regiona (there are exceptions to that rule but that's the general idea).  Opens are just that: open to any USFS skater who pays the entry fee.    Liberty was also sanctioned by Canada and had skaters representing countries as far away as Mexica and Brazil.

Offline Isk8NYC

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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2011, 08:12:14 AM »
Re: Edea graphic

You have to take advertising with a grain of salt.  It's just a different way of lacing, not the single "correct" way.
(Note that this is an italian website; perhaps something got lost in translation.)

Idea should have said it was their "suggested" method because now I wonder if they have technical issues that force the skater to use the out-in lacing to keep the skate tied properly.    A normal skate can be laced either way.  If they're insistent, I wouldn't recommend their skate.

As I said before, it's overkill imo to look for tourniquet tightness in laces, especially if you're not doing triples or having difficulties with lacing.  I wondered why it was called Russian lacing, too.  Was it to make it seem more exotic or is it really a technique from that country?

That's interesting. No surgeon's knot at the ankle. Or am I the only person who does that?

I don't use a surgeon's knot.  A half-knot suffices to keep the lower laces tied if there's a lace pop in the upper hooks.
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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2011, 08:25:47 AM »
The only complaint I've heard about Edea's is they are impossile to keep tight enough.  I should ask the two skaters who have told me that if they are lacing in this "lock" method.  That might help them out.

Offline Isk8NYC

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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2011, 08:40:58 AM »
The only complaint I've heard about Edea's is they are impossile to keep tight enough.  I should ask the two skaters who have told me that if they are lacing in this "lock" method.  That might help them out.
Ah, that's a light bulb moment.  Thanks.
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Offline Query

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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2011, 04:01:16 PM »
In the mean time I've tried this lacing method on one boot, that David Ripp said was invented by Russians.

Perhaps he said that because a lot of skating parents think The Russian Way to do anything is best. But I've noticed there is no single Russian way to do a lot of things. Even two Russian Ice Dancers can do things different.

Anyway, all I've noticed so far is "the Russian way" boot takes a fair bit longer to lace and unlace. I could probably make it tighter this way, but I don't have a triple-jump level boot (or even double level skating skills) that needs extreme pressure to conform to my foot. I think Isk8NYC is probably right. But I'll give it a few more days, and see if I can do it faster then.

Imagine doing this to rental boots. The kids would never figure out how to tiighten it, so they wouldn't even try.

I don't know why davincisoprano1's rink has such bad luck with thr blue boots, though it has been roughly 15 years since they were made - and rental boots often wear out fast, because people aren't very careful with them. The rink guy where I used them said they essentially never broke down. But they had to replace all the trashy blades which wore out fast. Since they were riveted, I guess that means drilling the rivets out.

Offline CaraSkates

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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #22 on: July 18, 2011, 04:33:31 PM »
I think this is how I lace my skates - I can't be positive without digging them out of their bag and it's been two years since I put laces in but it looks the same. I wear Riedells and I think when I started wearing Silver Stars 4 years ago, they were laced this way and I've been doing it ever since. I now wear 2010LS and I do a triple cross at the ankle and then over the hooks with a double cross inbetween each hook - habit I picked up last summer from my coach who got it at a PSA conference. It helps lock my heel in place - I have super thin heels and already wear a split width and have padding inserted in. Mine stay fine for MIF and Dance but they are breaking down now and not holding up so well for freestyle....
Novice MIF - passed 8/25/10
Junior, here I come!!

Offline davincisop

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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2011, 07:53:15 AM »




I don't know why davincisoprano1's rink has such bad luck with thr blue boots, though it has been roughly 15 years since they were made - and rental boots often wear out fast, because people aren't very careful with them. The rink guy where I used them said they essentially never broke down. But they had to replace all the trashy blades which wore out fast. Since they were riveted, I guess that means drilling the rivets out.


Yeah. I worked rentals during the winter when we'd get 200+ people a night and I can't tell you how many people THREW their rentals into a pile after the session. There were so many people bringing them up at once we couldn't keep it controlled and you get that one person to throw them and the rest will follow. It took a good half hour to sort and match the skates back up and another 20 to get them all put away and this was with three people working it!

Offline MadMac

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Re: Lacing boots the Russian way; Boot reviews from Liberty Competition
« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2011, 11:18:50 AM »
Yeah. I worked rentals during the winter when we'd get 200+ people a night and I can't tell you how many people THREW their rentals into a pile after the session. There were so many people bringing them up at once we couldn't keep it controlled and you get that one person to throw them and the rest will follow. It took a good half hour to sort and match the skates back up and another 20 to get them all put away and this was with three people working it!
Wow! I've never seen that problem, I suppose because in all the rinks around here skate rental takes the persons shoes until the skates are returned. The shoes are put on the shelf where that pair of skates lives and an employee has to have the skates back, with laces tucked inside, before the shoes are returned to the owner.

ITA the blue 'moonboots' are horrible. straps & buckles always broken and blades look like they were run thru the garbage disposal.