Ice Skating Is Heating Up in the DMV
Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series. Part 2, which will be published next Monday, focuses on what to wear and take when you hit the ice.
It is really cold, but ice conditions are ideal at local rinks, and the ice will stay hard after the temperatures warm up. And with the Winter Olympics coming up, interest in skating will peak.
Where do you start?
Most beginners want to be able to start, skate forward and stop. Then they will want to try skating backward and stopping, and maybe learn some simple spins, jumps or spirals (like ballet’s arabesque). Lessons are highly recommended. Just ask at the rink about them.
Here are some tips that will help you out on your first few tries.
There are no weak ankles, just badly fitting skates!
Skates should be snug, just like your regular shoes. When renting skates, you will have to try out sizes, which can differ according to brand. Don’t assume your skate size is your shoe size. You should be able to feel the ice while you are skating.
If the rink has unisex skates, you should assume they are men’s sizes; women will need two sizes smaller if this is the case. If you are interested in hockey, many rinks now also rent hockey skates, though if they do not you can get ice hockey skates here.
That brings us to socks. Do not wear thick, ragg-type socks or more than one pair of conventional socks. This is really important. You cannot maintain circulation if you do, and you will just get colder, not warmer. Many hard-core skaters wear no socks at all, but I recommend silk sock liners that are very thin. Thin is key. Skip cotton, since it won’t wick the moisture that will make your feet so very cold, especially in non-leather rental skates.
Lace skates comfortably snug, not loosely, around your foot – just as with your shoes. Then lace at the ankle as tightly as you can without cutting off the circulation. Finally, lace them above the ankle as around the foot. Tie a good double knot, but not so tight that you can’t untie it when it is wet and you are tired.
I highly recommend inline-skate kneepads, especially if you are serious about pursuing this, and you might consider a helmet.
Buy skates if you are serious about skating. You just can’t advance in skating with rental skates. And rental skates are almost always not leather, leading to colder feet.
Skater’s Paradise in Waldorf, Md., serves pond skaters through professionals. Suburban rinks may have pro shops that can help you.
Used skates should not have boots that flop over, and you will have to get them sharpened — professionally. Don’t try to skate on a used blade that wouldn’t cut soft butter! Keep your skates professionally sharpened. It makes a huge difference.
Also buy soakers and blade guards when you buy skates. Soakers are sort of a terry-cloth “blade cozy” to keep the blades from nicking each other or cutting up your skate bag. Blade guards, on the other hand, are on the blade only when you are walking on ground.
Never store skates in blade guards – they will keep the blades moist, and you don’t want rusty blades or, worse, water in the heels.