Boot Fitting

Proper fitting skate boots are critical to the performance and well being of a skater. They must be of adequate strength to support the difficult moves and jumps a skater attempts. At the same time, they must flex to allow the skater to bend at the knee, in order to control the edges and launch those jumps. A snug secure fit is required with the heel locked down and supported and the rest of the foot equally secure and in proper position. Toes should have some wiggle room vertically, but no excess horizontal space should exist on a correctly fit pair of boots.

  • Boot Fitting

Every skaters feet are traced, and careful measurements are taken standing and seated to determine the perfect length and width of skating boots. Many boots are stocked at Podium Skates, ready to try on, and many others can be ordered in a week or less. Fittings are not rushed; great care is taken to determine the correct size and model to provide the right amount of support and comfort for the competitive skater.

Custom boots require even more measurements, often along with foam casts of the feet and photographs, so the correct fit can be obtained.

  • Custom Insoles

Insoles made individually to the skaters feet provide perfect arch support for figure skaters. These prevent over pronation, and balance the skater correctly over the center of the blade. Usually blades can be center mounted with this method, which is better for the skater and the boots and blades. Twisting of the boots is therefore eliminated, and stress is taken off the joints of the skater as well. Changing edges, level spinning, and jump takeoffs and landings are all enhanced by this custom support. Insoles are also available for off ice training and casual shoes, and can make life much more comfortable for the skater, and the skater's parents! Mike has more experience crafting these custom insoles than any other skate technician.

  • Boot Leveling (Preparation for Blade Mounting)

Before blades are attached to the skate boot, the soles and heels need to be leveled in order for a flush fit between boot and blade. In a perfect world, blades would lay smoothly up against the boot bottoms, but in reality, this is seldom the case. At Podium Skates, boots are always prepped to accommodate the blade model being installed.

Preparation of the sole of the boot is always necessary to achieve proper mounting of the blades. Just tightening the screws in an attempt to draw the soles and heels down, to meet the blades, can put tremendous stress on both the boots and the blades. This can, and does, result in blade warpage and boot twisting, along with premature boot breakdown. When gaps exist at the heel between the boot and blade, simply landing a jump can cause the screws to snap, resulting in the blade separating from the heel, and possibly severe injury to the skater.

One method of mounting blades onto boots, is to place shims of leather or plastic into the gaps that exist between the boot and blade. We are convinced this is far from the ideal solution. Shims can become loose and fall out, or actually compress into the leather of the boot and lose effectiveness. This method does nothing to add to the stability of and integrity of the boot and blade combination.

Mike, skate technician of Podium Skates, firmly believes the most effective and safe way to prepare a boot for blade mounting, is to sand the sole and heel so there is a perfect interface between boot and blade. When a boot is sanded properly, there is nothing to loosen or change as the skate is used, or in some cases, abused.

Sanding is an art not easily mastered, one reason so few skate technicians attempt it. Sand a boot improperly, and the boot can be ruined beyond repair. When boots are leveled by sanding correctly, the blades lay flush without significant gaps on the soles and heels, and the blade is square with the vertical dimensions of the boot. The whole skate structure is improved by this method of preparation.

  • Sealing

After the boots are prepared for mounting, the next step is to seal them against moisture. A boot not properly sealed deteriorates very quickly indeed. There are several methods of sealing boots, some far more effective than others.

Beeswax or “Sno Seal” as it is commonly called, gives protection by applying multiple coats of wax to leather that has been warmed by a hairdryer, heat gun, or other method. The boots are allowed to cool in between applications.

The uppers of the boots should be taped, in order to prevent heat damage and discoloration from wax that may come in contact with it. Sno Seal is fairly effective when properly applied, although moisture eventually invades the soles after extended skating. You may notice the boots feel heavier after using them for a long time. The leather can eventually blacken from water damage, especially in the front of the sole around the blade.

Heel and sole enamel looks nice when first applied. It is not long before it starts to crack and peel or wear off. Varnishes or urethanes available at the local hardware store, unfortunately fair no better. These leave the boots vulnerable to moisture damage very quickly.

Some manufacturers ship boots with a seal already on the soles and heels. Those seals do not give adequate protection to the boots and unfortunately many cannot be improved by the further efforts of the skate technician or the consumer.

Podium Skates offers a special industrial grade urethane seal. Ten to twelve coats are applied over the course of several days. This can only be done over raw leather, in order for proper adhesion. Some manufacturers will ship their product without any seal applied to it; at least one will sand their seal off the boots before shipping. If there is any factory seal on the boots, it is impossible to successfully apply the industrial urethane to them. Boots that are properly sealed with this method do not deteriorate. The blades do not sink into the bottoms of the soles and heels, and the leather does not turn black from damage.

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