You don’t need to live in a cold climate to enjoy one of the season’s more popular winter activities — ice skating. In fact, there are lots of indoor rinks where you can skate year-round, a refreshing way to cool off during the summer months.
Since the sport requires little more equipment than a pair of skates, it’s an affordable option for families, with kids as young as 3 or 4 ready to hit the ice. And if you live in a region that gets cold enough for lakes to safely freeze, skating is even free.
For kids getting into the sport for the first time, there are some guidelines to consider when purchasing a pair of recreational skates. FN asked Chris Kinchla, owner of Beacon Hill Skate Shop in Boston, for some tips on buying kids their first pair.
Jackson Excel/Mark II Blade – JS1395 Youth
The skate features a vinyl coated upper and foam-backed vinyl/mesh comfort tongue.
When it comes to quality, said Kinchla, you get what you pay for. To get a good pair of skates, you have to spend from $100 to $170. Avoid buying cheap ones, since there’s little support and some blades are made of poor-quality steel that gets dull quickly, requiring routine sharpening.
Good support is critical, he warns, since it’s much easier to skate when ankles are adequately supported.
Bauer Junior Vapor X600 Ice Hockey Skates
The skates are designed with Eclipse Capri argon welded stainless steel blades, leather tongue reinforcement and Dri-Lex lining.
Always get a skate with a single blade underneath, rather than double runners. While double runners may give kids an added sense of security on the ice, they do not allow for the same maneuverability as single blades and restrict the moves kids can make.
Riedell 33 Diamond Ice Skates
Vapor Skate Fit is tapered-fitting to enhance acceleration, quickness and mobility, while a hydrophobic microfiber lining material works to keep feet cool and dry.
Adjustable skates — those that can be extended to cover a range of sizes — are not recommended. A skate’s natural balance point changes with each size. Along the curve of the blade, there’s a balance point that affects the center of gravity. Buying new skates is required as a child’s foot grows — kids perform better if skates fit properly.
Bauer Supreme One.9 Ice Skates
Skates are designed with an upper that will fully mold to the ankle, allowing for a true custom fit once the head is molded and broken in.
Both hockey and figure skates work for beginners, said Kinchla, with the former typically providing better support and comfort. And, since hockey skate blades are shorter and rounded at the edges rather than serrated as in figure skates, they’re easier for beginners to maneuver on the ice.
Most importantly, warned Kinchla, avoid buying skates online. “In my store, I see someone’s foot and size them correctly. Wearing the wrong size [skate] is not an enjoyable experience,” he said.
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