Buying my figure skates has been quite an adventure. Hopefully this is the right place to share (if not, feel free to move this post).
It began back in November 2011, when my husband and I decided we were going to wholeheartedly support our town's new ice rink. With the idea that we'd be coming to skate regularly, hubby decided to buy me a pair of skates at the local pro-shop. I was very excited to have my very own, brand-new pair of skates. I tried on both Jackson and Riedell, the only two brands our tiny pro-shop carries, and I found that Riedell's just weren't comfortable, but the Jackson Glaciers fit like they were made for me. I wear a regular shoe size 8 WW, and much to my surprise, the size 8 M skates fit without being too narrow. Shocked and pleased, we bought them on the spot. A few weeks later, we began lessons.
Everything was fine, the skates broke in nicely, and they were so comfortable . . . until I started doing swizzles. Then my feet started spasming. I could make it halfway across the short width of the rink and then I had to stop and rest by the wall for a few minutes, until the pain in my feet subsided. Since you have to go at least halfway across the rink in order to pass the test, I knew I was in trouble. I couldn't understand the problem, since the skates seemed to fit so nicely. Eventually, I read that skates are supposed to fit snugly and therefore my skates were too big. I tried on a pair in 7.5, and then a 7, which fit much better--but were too narrow.
Our pro-shop guy offered to order the Jackson Glaciers in a wide-width for me. So we waited a couple of weeks for those to come in, but when they finally arrived, they weren't wide. Because Jackson Glaciers don't come in wide. But nobody bothered to tell the pro-shop guy this when he ordered them, they just accepted his order and shipped the M width. So I did some research and found that if I wanted a wide width, I was going to have to go up a few levels and order the Jackson Artiste or Classique. Since the Classiques were only about $25 more than the Artistes and seemed quite a bit nicer, we ordered them.
But they didn't ship. And they didn't ship. My test loomed, just one week away. So we drove 5 hours to the nearest city with a figure skating shop, just so I could try on some skates and (hopefully) go home with a pair for the test. Unfortunately, it was just after Christmas and the shop was sold out of nearly everything. The lady tried skate after skate on me, but she didn't have the right size and width combination that I needed. Finally, at the very end, she brought out a pair of Riedell 110s, the cheapest skate they had. And it fit. Well, sort of. They had to have the sides punched out to make them wide enough, which the shop lady did. The back of the ankle tilted forward right where my ankle tilted back, and therefore they dug into my ankles painfully, but the shop lady assured me that would "break-in" and so she sold me a pair of Bunga ankle sleeves to wear in the meantime. (Now I'm paranoid about the skates damaging my achilles tendon!) By the time we drove home again, the punch-outs had shrunk so they no longer fit. Instead, the edge of the punch-out rubs against the base of my big toe, and when I wear the skates, my feet go numb after a few minutes . . . but they are (slightly) less painful than my too-big Glaciers, so I wore them for my test--and passed by the skin of my teeth. (Yay!)
Finally, the Jackson Classiques arrived, in a size 7 C. When I first tried them on, I could barely squeeze my foot into them, I thought they were too small, and I despaired. But the pro-shop owner was kind enough to let me sit around in his shop for nearly an hour, wearing them. And gradually, they stretched just enough for me to realize that they did, indeed, fit. They were wide enough, which was my biggest concern. They hurt where the arch support met my flat-feet, but I suspected that might go away with breaking-in. Still, they were painful and I didn't want to buy yet another pair of skates that didn't fit! If they'd been cheaper, I wouldn't have hesitated, but because these were not $65 skates, but $140 skates, I wasn't sure what to do. My husband encouraged me to go ahead and buy them, so I finally did. And I'm glad, because with wearing them around the house, they have started to break in and most of the pain has vanished.
Now I'm just waiting until I can get them sharpened, so I can stop wearing the "temporary" Riedells, which are quite uncomfortable. Problem is, we haven't a decent sharpener in our city. The pro-shop uses an automated machine that doesn't know the difference between hockey skates and figure skates, so I have to drive 3 hours to the closest city with a rink to find someone who knows what they're doing. I finally found someone and we have an appointment for next weekend. (I know the local figure skaters have someone to sharpen their skates, but that's a secret they're guarding closely!)
But now I've read a little more about the Jackson Classiques and learned that they have freestyle blades, which have toe-picks that may be too big for me, since I'm still a beginner. Someone suggested that I could swap the blades out if I have trouble with the toe-picks, but then I read that you can only do that with leather-soled skates, and these are PVC. So I don't know what I'll do if the toe-picks are too big. I couldn't go with a lesser skate, because I need the wide width. My feet are double wide, practically off the sizing chart, and I already learned that punching the toes out doesn't work well. So, hopefully I can learn to deal with the blades! Next week they'll be sharpened and I can finally skate in them, and then we'll find out if my skate-buying saga is ended or not. . . .