Choosing and setting up speed skate boots
Choosing and setting up skate boots
By Christophe Audoire - International Speed Skating Coach
Choice of the boots and set-up
With shoes in the shape of an S, closed under the malleolus, the foot is securely supported.
That concept is particularly efficient with made-to-measure shoes (another specific article will be devoted to that later)… For mass-produced shoes, you have to mix support and comfort.
The inside design of shoes
Comfort depends on the inside padding of the shoe. The padding should be judiciously positioned between the foot and the contact areas with the shoe, without being too important not to load down the shoe.
With shoes designed for high level competition, comfort is not the main point and for performance, you will favor a thinner contact (thus less padding) between the foot and the shoe in order to get the best precision in your movements and the most efficient energy return during the push.
And for kids?
For small categories, you often have to face the dilemma of shoe size vs. kids' growth. In order to adjust the shoes to the size of their feet, the most common solution is to slip on two pairs of socks, an extra sole and cotton at the toes.
It is an interesting solution to get the closest as possible to the right size and make sure that the young skater's foot is well supported, but it is not the optimal solution.
Kids' shoes like those of the Powerslide C6 Juniors offer a new technical solution as they enable to adjust the size with an extra liner (made of neoprene) and then to get the kid a bigger shoe.
Comments of Martine LEURANGUER - President of GUINGAMP RS
The young skaters of the club equipped with C6 Juniors realized that they were "better at ease", the liner easing "the foot ache" due to too hard shoes. Brigitte, the coach of the club, thinks that "the liner is a plus as for the youngest' comfort; that type of skates enabling to gain sizes is also good for the parents' purse."
A suggestion to adjust the lacing: it is possible to divide one big lace into two parts in order to have one lace for the top of the foot and another one for the tongue.
You should tighten more one part than the other.
Proceed as following:
- Calculate the length of lace you need for the end of the foot (horizontal part),
- Cut it…
- Burn the ends for them not to fray and for easing the slipping into the eyelets.
- Use the remaining part of the lace for the top of the shoe.
Another possible adjustment for shoes with a higher lacing: you can give more freedom to the movement and improve the angle of the ankle if you do not lace the first eyelet. Give it a try and feel if your skating level allows that freedom at the ankle.
That adjustment is possible only if the basis of the shoe (under the malleolus) supports the foot enough… (cf. S-shaped boot)
Set-up for speed skating and trailing
Keep in mind that in that concept of set-up, it is the frame that is adjusted to the shoe (even if in the facts, it could be the other way around too).
Here is the logic that will guide our adjustment: "the continuity of the foot-boot-frame-wheels joint".
With a little training you will be able to manage easily that set-up:
1) Place the frame at a neutral point (center of the foot going through the second toe and the center of the heel); Do not tighten the fixing screw too much in order to be able to move the frame a bit.
2) Without tightening too much the lacing, ask the skater to stationary take a speed skating posture and check if it is stable without excessively leaning to the inside or the outside of the foot.
3) Move the frame a few millimeters to the inside or the outside in order to make the skater evaluate the difference of stability on one foot, still keeping his speed skating posture.
4) Once the frames seems to be well placed - feeling of stability at the "neutral point" - ask the skater to sit down (careful not to ruin the set-up) and tighten the screw under the shoe.
5) Ask the skater to skate a few meters in order to evaluate the set-up at the neutral point… adapted to HIS/HER morphology and HIS/HER skating posture!
Adapting the set-up with thin blocks (between the boot and the frame) is also quite efficient. But it is trickier and it requires more experience.
How to test the rigidity of a carbon boot?
Press it on both sides of the tongue: If it bends easily with the pressure of the fingers, then the boot is too soft.
Imagine the difference between the few kilos of pressure exerted by your hand and those exerted on the boots by your own weight taking edges with a powerful push…
It is a practical and easy test to judge of the quality of a boot.
The lack of rigidity of the boot will lead to a bad support of the foot, an imprecise control over the skate and an important loss in the energy return.
In the end, a defective set-up, a shoe that is too soft or too low, will lead to muscle pain (especially at the shin) as in such situations, the muscles that are responsible for balance will have to "make up" for the weakness of the boot.
Some skaters take great care of their boots, they have the right to be pampered too (cleaning, polishing), delicately dried after races in the rain…
Lots of skaters develop a very affective, even sentimental relationship with their skate shoes…
Then if not already done, I wish you to find "the good match" !
Useful linksBy Ligne Droite and Alfathor
Translated by Close Yr E's