|Presented by:||Ron Chisholm - a dedicated hockey fan, parent of four players, past player and coach of many years, and expert skate sharpener since 1983.|
CUSTOM RADIUS ICE SKATE
A Technical Approach to Better Skating
Skates made today are the product of years of development, and now represent state of the art technology in materials and construction. However, skates do not come from the manufacturer sharpened, much less being ready to be used on the ice, as it is economically impossible for them to provide a matched pair of blades, accurately profiled, balanced, and sharpened to meet an individual skater's preference. The manufacturer leaves the final sharpening and shaping to the skate sharpener, and this is where most problems originate. A major contouring is theoretically required only once in the life of an ice skate blade. In reality, the more a skate is subjected to poor sharpening, the more likely it is to require frequent contouring. There are skate sharpeners who can seriously damage a contour (profile) in a single skate sharpening. Contours should be checked and re-established at least once a year.
Most skate sharpening is typically done free-hand, and may cause problems for skaters, with their performance being lower than their expectations. Custom Radius is a contouring system of shaping and balancing skates to provide increased performance for all skaters, both professional and recreational. The contour radius of the skate blade should not be confused with the radius of hollow or hollow grind of the blade. The radius of hollow is the concave cut along the surface of the blade, which creates the two distinct edges (inside and outside) on the blade. A discussion of the hollow grind can be found by following this link or the one at the bottom of this page. Both the contour radius and the radius of hollow or other form dressing of the blade are critical to the performance of the hockey player.
Good skating starts with properly cared for skates, and contoured skates help you skate better and easier. The most significant advantage of Custom Radius shaping of the blade is increased performance. The increased performance is in the areas of improved stride, speed, stability, maneuverability, greatly increased skater confidence because skates will not break loose or chatter while making tight turns or stopping, and safety because the radiused skate blade does some of the work and relieves the strain on muscles and joints, thereby reducing the chance of fatigue induced injuries.
Contouring or Profiling
Contouring is blade shaping, not sharpening, which must be done after establishing the desired profile. Skate contouring is a precision system of shaping skate blades to the individual specifications of each skater. Accurate positioning of the balance point on the blade provides maximum stability and maneuverability. The concept of contouring is to profile a skate for the proper lie (balance point) and radius of curvature. Skate blades do not come from the manufacturer as precision matched sets. Because of this, profiling of a new set of blades is highly recommended. The blades are usually not identical and will often have slightly different profiles and balance points. Contouring the skate blades will assure that both blades are identical, having the same shape and balance point, to give the skater optimum skating performance. After the skates have been contoured, they are sharpened while maintaining the established profile. The contour of the skates should be checked periodically (at least annually) to restore the profile which may be altered from repeated sharpening.
For years sharpeners have been rockering skate blades. The idea was to put a radius on the blade to increase maneuverability. Although the idea is sound, the operation is free-hand. Consequently, there is no consistency of radius from skate to skate, and more importantly, no consistency in the lie of the radius. The radius on a rockered blade extends from toe to heel, and too much blade is usually taken off both front and back. The quality of the rocker is dependent upon the skate sharpener. The results may be inconsistent from sharpening to sharpening, as well as from one skate to the other and can often be harmful.
Contouring on the other hand is not a free-hand operation. Contouring shapes and balances blades to match the skater's natural stance and style. A contoured pair of skates has the same lie, and each skate has an equal amount of blade on the ice. Additionally, the contouring system has the unique advantage of being able to profile your new skates exactly like your old pair, so you don't have to re-adjust your skating style or "get used to" your new skates. Contouring takes out all the guesswork and gives you the same quality workmanship time after time.
In order to properly profile the blades, they must be in the holder and on the boot. Blade center is a measurement that is done referencing the boot, as the balance point is based upon the foot position inside the boot. The location of the balance point (for pitch) is then referenced from the blade holder. The contour itself can be put on the blade, but the pitch cannot be determined without the holder. Some people say that they can profile unmounted blades, but I cannot see how it can be done reliably or accurately.
The Radius of a skate blade is actually a portion of a circle ground onto the blade. The length of the radius controls the amount of blade touching the ice. A skate with a long, flat blade is generally a fast skate, as in a racing skate, but provides very limited maneuverability. A skate with a small radius provides excellent maneuverability but very poor control on long strides and reduced speed. The correct radius is a compromise between maneuverability and stability resulting in maximum control and reduced muscle fatigue. For years, the generally accepted radius for hockey skates was 9'. This is the approximate radius that comes from the manufacturer, but as stated above, this is not precise and final sharpening and contouring are left to the skate sharpener. Generally, new skates are not well matched from skate to skate and require proper contouring to remove any high spots on the blades and to adjust the lie or balance point to the skater's preference. Depending upon the manufacturer, you may find that the skates actually are now being made with a 9', 10', or 11' radius.
A single contoured pair of skates actually has three radii on it. The large, working radius extends across much of the center of the blade. The back and front radii are blended into this working radius and are equally as important. The front radius is used at the end of each leg thrust, and the back radius supports the skater while cornering.
The Contouring System uses the concept of radius to give you maximum maneuverability, stability, and balance.
Lie and Balance
The lie of a skate is the pitch of the center Radius. If the pitch or lie is incorrect, the skater will not feel comfortable and properly balanced. The skater's posture will be poor, causing muscle fatigue. The lie controls the body weight, which is important to the start of the skater's thrust position. The correct lie ensures that the skater will start the thrust from the center of the skate. As the semi-circle is completed, the leg is extended and the thrust travels down the blade. With the correct Lie, the high point of the working radius is slightly toward the heel, and there is less blade along the front. Consequently the skater's knees bend slightly, "unlocking" the body.
When standing erect, a skater should be evenly balanced and comfortable. If the lie is too far back, the knees and ankles will be forced to bend. If the lie is too far forward, the legs are locked into a rigid position.
Benefits of Custom Radius Sharpening
Additional Sharpening and Skate Information
on this site has been collected from official scoresheets and from on ice
observations. As such, the final statistics are not to be construed as
official or sanctioned by the Salem High School Athletic Department or by the NHIAA. However, much of this information is not available from any other
© 2020 Ron Chisholm & Associates