Skate Sharpening And YouShareThis
My summer job for three years during my college career was at a hockey shop, sharpening skates. We were one of those destination skate sharpening places – the best equipment, pride in the job we did, the whole package. So I know this stuff pretty thoroughly.
Here’s what you need to know:
Basically, your skate “hollow” is how deep the groove is between the edges of your blade.
If you hand your skates to someone for sharpening, and they don’t ask what hollow you get them done to, they’re probably doing them at what’s called a “1/2 inch” (which refers to the wheel they use to sharpen your blades). And hey, don’t feel bad if you don’t know what you get yours sharpened to - Iginla came in one summer and said “I dunno, my trainer just does ‘em”.
The sharper your edges are (which comes from the deeper grooves), the deeper you sink into the ice. So you can get more push and accelerate faster, but also, during coasting, you slow down quicker because of the increased friction/drag of your blades in the ice.
And of course, the heavier you are, the deeper you sink as well. Thus, being heavy with sharp skates is a bad idea.
You can get your skates sharpened anywhere from 1/8th of an inch to one inch. 1/8th would be the sharpest, and one inch would be the least sharp.
I used a 5/8ths hollow, but as I got older and heavier, I switched to the less sharp 3/4ths. Basically, I like to stay on top of the ice and maintain speed, since I wasn’t really a stop-and-start penalty kill guy, I was more of a coast-and-float breakaway hunting guy. At my weight (185 then, 200 now), I’m still able to get plenty of push from that hollow. Plus, we had trainers to sharpen our skates as often as we liked, so there was no “get them too sharp and let them dull down” logic that a lot of rec players use.
Most of you probably get your skates done too sharp.
You want less of a hollow if you skate on soft ice, if you’re a heavier person, or if you want to better keep your speed during coasting. I think you get less tired this way, but it may take you a second longer to get to top speed.
You want more of a hollow if you play on hard ice, if you’re a lighter person, or if you want to be able to accelerate quicker. I think you need to consciously keep moving more, but you’re maxing out your potential quickness.
So next time you bring your skates in to get buzzed, I recommend 5/8ths. Most of the guys I played with used that hollow, since it’s a nice compromise – a 1/2 inch is pretty damn sharp. And if the place you take them too doesn’t know what you’re talking about, you need to take them somewhere else (preferably somewhere that they use a level to make sure your edges are even. That makes a huge difference, and the lazy places don’t do it).
In general, stuff like t-blades are too gimmicky for me. I’ll stick with what everybody at the highest level uses, until something better comes along. Unless it’s too weird, like Vern Fiddler and a few other guys testing the heated blade holder thingy’s. I’m out on that, thanks.
As for “rockering”, that’s totally a preference thing. People say that forwards need to be more on their toes, and d-men need to be more on their heels, but unless it totally bothers you, you’re probably over-thinking it. I took mine out of the box, had them sharpened, and wore them. Don’t make yourself nuts.
Let me know if you tinker with it and like them less sharp. I bet you do.