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Mr. Edge is a qualified skate technician with years and years of experience. He can answer your questions on boots, blades and foot problems related to your equipment. Questions will be answered in SKATING magazine and later posted on the web site.
It crossed my mind that I've never written about blade guards and soakers, the difference between them and for what they are meant to be used. I was reminded of this on a recent warm winter day when I noticed a girl walking around outside with her soakers on instead of blade guards.
Blade guards are typically made of either rubber or a hard plastic material. Some come in one length only called Centipede, while others are two-piece construction, attached to one another via a spring on each side, providing enough tension so they won't fall off your blades when walking in them.
I've found the Guard Dog brand to be particularly easy to adjust, cut and put together. The slotted holes allow the attachment springs to fit tightly into their intended holes and when properly adjusted and cut, offer a snug fit. Other brands fall a bit short in that the spring holes are over-sized, causing a loose and sloppy fit on the blades.
Please note: Never leave your guards on your blades overnight or for an extended period of time. If you do, expect to see rust start forming on the bottoms and sides of your blades.
Soakers, on the other hand, are made of various materials. Some are lined with or completely made from terry cloth, while others are lined with or made from a non-absorbent, man-made material.
The intended purpose of the soaker is to absorb, which only terry cloth will do (unless you custom-make a pair using a shammy cloth lining). Soakers should be placed on your blades after you have wiped them down with a towel to remove the excess snow and water buildup from skating. You can then leave the soakers on your blades until the next time you skate. When your soakers are lined with or completely made of terry cloth or some other absorbent material, little to no rust will form on your blades.
Please note: After a prolonged period of time, your soakers will become damp from all the excess moisture they have absorbed off your blades. Occasionally check and if they appear to be damp, turn them inside out and toss them in the dryer for about 10 minutes.
It's time now for a question.
Q: How do you know when it's time to have your boots relined?
Michael, Chicago, Ill.
A: If your skates get to this point, it may just be time to think about buying a new pair. However, boots can become worn out and the inside lining begin to crack before the support in the boots weakens. The key here is that the inside lining will dry out and begin splitting. Sometimes it's only a small line you notice, but it can become large and the padding behind the lining usually comes out also. Once this happens, it's usually not worth repairing.
There are basically two ways to patch a boot. The first is to glue on a large leather patch over the torn area. This will work for a while, but eventually the patch will wear away because it's only glued on and not sewn in. The second is to reline the entire boot. Not only is this costly, but the new lining is placed over the old lining, thus reducing the overall length and width of the boot. Keep in mind that the old lining is not being removed, only covered.
Lastly parents, I have something for you. To help take away some of the stress in your lives, go to edgerelief.com and enjoy.
Mr. Edge and all related elements are property of Arena Sports & Consulting Services, Inc. ©2013. Send your questions to Mr. Edge via mail (Ask Mr. Edge, SKATING magazine, 20 First Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80906); FAX (719) 635-9548 or e-mail them online.
The opinions of Mr. Edge are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Figure Skating or SKATING magazine. Remember, if you have problems with your feet, check with a doctor – the problem may very well be with your boot, but it could be more serious. Check with your local pro shop for more information about boots and blades.