Make sure your skates fit! If they feel uncomfortable, there are a few things you can do. The first is heat molding. Someone at your local skating shop will put the skates in an “oven”, and then bring them back out and quickly put them on your feet. This should mould the skates to better fit your feet. You must stay still for 15-30 minutes, depending on who heated your skates – everyone has their personal time preference. Another way is by “punching out” your skates. If you just have one troublesome spot where you are chafing or bumping up against, someone at your local skating shop can stretch the leather slightly in that area. It is typically visually barely noticable, if done correctly.
Waterproofing, or “sealing” your skates is the way you probably want to go, though it’s not completely mandatory. This can also be done at the local skate shop using Sno-Seal or another beeswax-based sealant.
WATCH YOUR STEP!
Rubber and ice are the only two surfaces that your blade can touch without being damaged. A fairly common mistake is letting your blade touch another metal. Do NOT do this! You will only nick your blade! Do not ever raise the boot onto a metal bench when tying it, especially, and avoid hitting things with the blade in general. (If you accidentaly “click” your two blades together doing a crossover, for example, you might see a scratch on the side of the blade, but it shouldn’t do too much damage. Just try and avoid this when possible.)
Walking around without any blade protection is NOT a good idea! Rubber is the only surface you can walk on (besides ice, of course) without doing damage to your blades. Even if your rink has rubber flooring (which it should), there may be little chunks of food or who-knows-what-else lying around that can ding up your blade, requiring them to be sharpened more often. A pair of blade guards (around $10) can prevent that! Slip them over your blades, and you can walk around on any surface without worrying about damaging the blades. There are two kinds; two-piece, and centipede. Two-piece guards last for MUCH longer, are easier to apply, and do a better job. Centipede guards, if not cut correctly, will crack right away. Even when they are cut correctly, the end tends to crack within a few weeks.
DRYING AND SOAKERS
When you step off the ice, you’ll notice that your blades (and maybe the boot too) are wet, and may even have “snow” on them! Your blades (AND boot!) need to be wiped dry with a soft cloth or chamois cloth. This keeps the metal from rusting, which would require you to buy a new pair of blades within a matter of weeks. (It is also not good to mount multiple pairs of blades on the same pair of boots.) Once you have dried down the entire blade (including the flat part that’s screwed to your boot) put a soaker on it to absorb left-over dampness while you’re storing it. Whenever you’re storing your skates, they should be in soakers!
You didn’t think your blades would last forever, did you? Every once in a while you have to get your blades sharpened, or else it is difficult to skate. Just HOW often depends on the blade, your level, and how often you skate; someone in your local pro shop or skate shop should be able to tell you about how often you should take your skates in. A good estimate is probably every 6-8 weeks, but again, it really does depend on how you use them. If you skate competitively, it may be more similar to 4-6 weeks. If you want, you can learn how to use a “stone” to do a bit of sharpening yourself, but this only prolongs the time between sharpenings – it doesn’t replace them! You can tell your skates need sharpening when you can visibly see tiny little nicks along the blade. Once there are a few of those on there, you should probably take the skates in. Sharpening only takes about 15 minutes, so don’t worry about having to leave them.
Also, VERY IMPORTANT: Make SURE that you are getting your blades sharpened by someone who is EXPERIENCED in sharpening FIGURE SKATING BLADES, not hockey blades! There is a huge difference, and you will notice it in the quality. Pro shops are typically not a good idea; go somewhere that specializes in figure skating only.
Scratches on the leather, of course, are inevitable. If you look at an old pair of skates on some of the more experienced skaters, they can look pretty beaten up. You can help to make it longer-lived by wearing over-the-boot tights or boot covers; but again, this won’t completely protect you from scratches.