The holidays are approaching, which means it’s time for some creative gift-giving ideas. To help get your kids and grandkids off the couch this winter and into the great outdoors, why not present them with a pair of ice skates?
Skating is an affordable way for youngsters to get some exercise, even if they live in a warmer climate. Many cities have indoor ice rinks that operate year-round and even offer lessons for beginners.
Getting into the sport requires the right equipment and that starts with a pair of properly-fitting skates. For some expert shopping tips for first-time skate buyers, FN turned to Strauss Skates and Bicycles, a 130-year-old retailer in Maplewood, Minn., where sales manager Bill Rhody offered some advice.
Find the Right Size Skates
For starters, there are two types of skates — hockey and figure. While hockey skates should be bought a size down from a child’s traditional shoe size, figure skates should be the same size as their everyday shoes.
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Know the Price
Rhody says ice skates are typically priced at $50 to $100. “You don’t need to spend more than $100 to get a good skate,” he said, especially when it comes to novice skaters. And since beginners do not hit the ice every weekend, skates are usually in good enough shape to be passed down to a younger sibling.
Take the Fit Test
When it comes to fitting skates, Rhody emphasized the importance of having skates with a snug fit. If the foot is allowed to move around, blisters can form due to friction. “Kids should feel the skate around them,” he explained. To test for fit, skates should be laced snugly. Next, toes should just brush the tip of the front of the skate and not be jammed inside. Other things to look for include skate width. Since many kids have wide feet, it’s critical to make sure there is enough wiggle room in the toe box from brands such as Riedell.
Shop in Person
Rhody suggests shopping for skates in person at a local independent skate shop instead of online where it can be a hit or miss.
Start Them Young
Lastly, Rhody says that kids of all ages can get in on the fun. “Kids can start skating as young as two,” he noted.
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