Elite skaters with "boot problems"

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by skateboy, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. skateboy

    skateboy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    4,246
    I've heard that so many elite skaters have had problems with new boots, or "bad boots." I don't get it, so I hope someone can enlighten me.

    When I competed (all the way up to the senior level), I went through my share of boots. And once I was fully grown, I always had the same size/type of boots. Of course, they were stiff and felt crappy at first, but by walking around in them to break them in, leather softeners, etc., they felt fine within 2-3 weeks, max.

    I understand when skaters complain of foot problems--that goes with the territory--but the boots themselves? I'm confused.
  2. brightphoton

    brightphoton New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2009
    Messages:
    71
    A few years ago, there was a documentary called Ice Diaries that mentioned that. It features a younger Alissa Czisny and documented her first Skate Canada victory.

    In episode 3, Daniel Kahle gets her new boots and she says she likes them a lot, but in a later episode, it starts to really hurt her feet and there's something wrong with the blade and prevents her from jumping well. The user who uploaded the later episodes got in trouble with Youtube, I think, because they've been removed.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXOumYXxK-o
  3. Johnny_Fever

    Johnny_Fever New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,101
    That's what foam pads are for.

    Blade placement is a trial and error process.
  4. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2007
    Messages:
    11,093
    skateboy - what level did you skate at?

    I'm a low level skater and I've had bad boots that I just could not make work, but then I also had okay boots that I was able to make do with. I like my boots now. That said, the level I skate at is such that okay boots don't really effect much.

    I think at the elite level having bad boots can cause a lot more trouble. Doing a quad is not possible if the boot doesn't offer the right support. Getting the timing right for a triple lutz isn't going to happen if you can't get the right bend. Having bad boots can cause Achilles Tendonitis that can make it extremely painful to move, or perform.

    It is possible the skaters are really having foot/ankle/calf problems but they say "bad boots" because these problems don't necessarily extend to when they take the boots off, they just cannot perform to their peak with the boots they have.


    When they say "bad boots" I don't think they mean they aren't broken in- what they mean is that the boot isn't working for them, even after breaking in.
  5. judiz

    judiz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Messages:
    3,196
    Nothing strange about boot problems, always the possibility of a manufactering defect which would cause the boots to be uncomfortable. Two recent cases I recall are Jeremy Abbott having boot problems two years ago, I think he had to go back to his old boots to finish the season and, Johnny Weir had to finish one season in one new boot and one old boot (turned out one of his new boots was a different height than the other which was causing him ankle and back pain).
  6. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2002
    Messages:
    5,954
    Boots seem to be constructed rather than manufactured, and I have the impression that for higher level boots very subtle differences can create great pain even when the boots are made to the same spec. (I guess an alternative explanation might be that skaters all have foot/ankle problems that exacerbate or improve over time, and that boots are an easy trigger.)

    I'm not sure I've heard of elite skiers (like downhill or aerials skiers) having boot problems with anything like the frequency you hear from elite skaters.
  7. LilJen

    LilJen Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2006
    Messages:
    9,272
    Even if you're having custom boots made, quality can vary a lot from manufacturer to manufacturer, and even within a manufacturer. Jeremy went through something like half a dozen boots in 2010-2011, all from Riedell (boots he's skated in for years and years) and the soles on every single dang pair were warped, by all reports, and the blades couldn't be mounted because of the warping. Not sure why Riedell couldn't get it right, but there you go. (Don't know if it was one or both boots.) That would sure as heck throw me off. Especially in such a perfectionistic sport, where sixteenths of an inch on any piece of equipment can make an enormous difference (for better or for worse).

    Also, some people's feet are very different from the average, and fitting them can be tough. And feet can change over the years.
  8. briancoogaert

    briancoogaert Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2003
    Messages:
    12,397
    First, skaters sometimes change of brand (because of sponsors or ... other reasons).
    Even with the same brand, it's not always exactly the same boot.

    Also, feet are not always the same throughout life. I have not the same feet now. It was easier when I was younger.
  9. Rochelle

    Rochelle Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Messages:
    348
    I've been skating for 14 years, and in the past 4 years I've heard of an outrageous amount of boot problems from friends who skate at all levels and wear all sizes -- and these problems are occuring in nearly all brands.

    I don't know what's going on... whether it's a change in labor, change in the quality of materials, changes in the process to try to keep costs down, or all of the "new boot technology" enhancements that don't have the kinks worked out yet... but overall I've never heard from so many people with some serious quality problems with their boots.

    I guess they just don't make them like they used to. For some skaters, this means sending the new boots back/forth to the manufacturer for fixing/alterations. In some instances, it even means a second replacement pair -- or even third replacement pair.

    For the average-joe recreational and lower level skater it's a frustrating (and sometimes costly) hassle at best... and a cause of foot injuries at the worst. For the elite skaters, it can mean a major disruption to their training time/plan, as they may have to resort to broken down boots/blades-at-the-end-of-their-life while they wait for the kinks to get worked out. And there's always a potential for injury.
  10. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2010
    Messages:
    2,158
    The thing that puzzles me is that if you are an elite competitor why don't you have a back up pair of skates broken in. A previous pair that you replaced before they were completely broken down. What if the airline or FedEx loses your skates?

    I guess I've been lucky, I have oddly shaped feet, but I've always been fine with stock boots.

    In reading through the comments I think maybe people are right, skaters today may have more orthopedic issues because of all the quads and triples.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  11. doubleflutz

    doubleflutz New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2010
    Messages:
    767
    Because unless you're switching the blades out every time (and if so, heh, good luck with that), the total cost of high end boots and blades can easily get up to $8K-$10K a pair? Granted that's nothing compared to what coaching and ice time can add up to over the course of a year, but you know, that's still a whole lot of money. Not even every elite skater has an endorsement contract for boots and blades, and even for the ones who do, who knows how generous the company is?
  12. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2007
    Messages:
    11,093
    WHAT? Seriously?

    Can you cite some examples?

    I see a lot of skaters in Edea Ice Fly. That's a $700 boot. Add on a Gold Seal Revolution blade (the most expensive blade I can find) for another $700, and you are under $1500.

    Harlick boots with all the most expensive options run about $1200, with the blade, you are under $2k.
    http://www.harlick.com/pdf/price_custom.pdf

    Even adding in a $500 plane ticket and two nights in a hotel for the trip to get fitted, I'm not seeing where you price comes from.



    I guess I'm also wondering how many elite skaters don't have a boot endorsement. We have a group of skaters at our rink who are preliminary level who have been scholarshipped for Edea boots... If they can get them free (essay contest)- how come elites can't?
  13. Proustable

    Proustable New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    1,592
    I know Patrick Chan does.
  14. arakwafan2006

    arakwafan2006 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2009
    Messages:
    698
    exactly... 1500.00 is like...top of the top of the line. Actually, Harlicks are super expensive. The Gold Seal used to be the top blade but many skaters are opting for the Ultima's etc. as is evident by that non solid plate on the blades
  15. skateboy

    skateboy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    4,246
    Haha, I was a competitive roller figure skater, but always used Harlick boots, just like ice skaters. Never had problems with the boots themselves.

    (I skated at the senior level, competed at Nationals four times, but never placed all that great there... nevertheless, I loved competing. Thanks for asking!)

    Thanks for all the comments, it's helping me to better understand the problem. :)
  16. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2006
    Messages:
    7,648
    This thread makes me think about pointe shoes...
  17. gingercat

    gingercat Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2011
    Messages:
    153
    Riedell has recently replaced leather with synthetic and that has caused a multitude of problems in skaters feet. Even with being very specific in your needs manufacturing mistakes are made and then you end up with an injury. It is more common thatn it should be and very upsetting to a skaters career.
  18. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2007
    Messages:
    11,093
    Sounds like you would have been good enough that boots matter :) We have two great coaches at our rink who are both former roller skaters- one was a national champion in Ecuador. I used to love roller skating, but just fooling around in roller rinks...

    I wonder if quality is an issue that didn't exist in the past. Everything has to be done faster and cheaper now :(

    Someone else mentioned pointe shoes- and having done ballet and skating I have to say breaking in a skate boot is a million times worse than a pointe shoe! That said- pointe shoes vary widely. Freed is one brand a lot of people wear and even within one model type you want a "maker"- because they can be made just a little bit differently... But pointe shoes are a lot more flexible. If I was an elite skater, I'd probably have to have custom boots- with pointe shoes, I bought two different sizes, one for each feet- and because they are not lasted I just had two pairs to rotate. Rotating them out also helps them last longer because they dry all the way and the paste doesn't break down. Now I just have one boot a little too small for me.
  19. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2006
    Messages:
    7,648
    I was referring to the importance of the maker/manufacturer, not the breaking in time. :) :)
  20. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2007
    Messages:
    11,093
    I was referring to the breaking in PAIN, not time. Boots HURT.

    That said- when you break in boots, they last for awhile. Once you break in pointe shoes, they are on a downward path... They don't stay perfect for long...

    But yes- both are very personalized. And neither is inexpensive.
  21. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2006
    Messages:
    7,648
    Have you tried Gaynor Mindens? They are supposed to last for quite a while. It's a mixed bag, though. Dancer either love 'em or hate 'em!
  22. Mafke

    Mafke New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2006
    Messages:
    1,125
    Not a skater, but I have the idea (correct me if I'm wrong) that boot problems come in two main varieties:

    1. something in the boot creates too much pain for the skater to perform to the best of their abilities.

    2. something in the boot interferes with fine-tuned muscle memory so that a skater can't perform certain elements they previously could.
  23. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2010
    Messages:
    2,158
    Brian Boitano talked about this in a coffee table book he put out years ago. He was talking about skates and said one time after he started wearing new skates he couldn't land the 3 axel. After finding no flaw with his technique he compared the old skates to the new and discovered that the heel on the new skates were 1/4 inch higher.

    He also said that he sent his skates via Fed Ex to get them sharpened, so he obviously had more than one pair.
  24. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2007
    Messages:
    11,093
    That must have been incredibly expensive- because skaters in the past already had to have two pairs- they needed figure skates and freestyle skates. Figure blades have a MUCH smaller toe pick and the boots are softer.

    So if he had two pairs of skates and didn't just train one discipline while he was waiting for a sharpening, he likely had FOUR pairs of skates. Of course-if he did this at the elite level, he skated during the hey-day of sponsorship. As an unknown that would be very expensive, even for skating.

    It does seem uncommon for skaters to have multiple pairs- because when they lose their luggage the first response is never "FedEx the backup!" At World's the few times I can recall it happening skaters have had their new pair (for next season) sent- but they aren't broken in. If it happened early season, I'd think they were SOL.
  25. made_in_canada

    made_in_canada INTJ

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Messages:
    4,205
    I've been wearing Graf Edmonton Specials for almost 15 years and they aren't all the same. I'm actually in a half size smaller than I used to be. The last pair I had that I actually trained in never really felt right. They had to get popped out a bunch of times but were never super comfortable. The last pair I bought felt like heaven right away. I've never had any issues breaking in those skates. Within a couple of hours of skating they felt good. Blade mounting is a whole other story :yikes:
  26. carriemarie

    carriemarie New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Messages:
    328
    Michelle had horrible boot problems in 1997 with her Ridell endorsement deal. It's talked about at length in Christine Brennen's Second book about the 98 Olympics (I can never remember the names of those books, even though I own them) and I saw them first hand over that 1996-1997 summer. They managed to work them out (I can't remember how either finished the contract and went back to her original brand, ended the contract early, or just used other boots-(t has been years since I read the book). It's pretty serious. When I saw Michelle day after day she was missing lutzes and flips and Danny Kwan would complain about her boots all the time.
    Have we mentioned Mark Ladwig losing the heel of a his boot at 4cc in 2011? Not a boot problem over time, but how random.
  27. Johnny_Fever

    Johnny_Fever New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,101
    As a teenager, my biggest boot problem was outgrowing them every 6 months.