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  1. #1

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    Elite skaters with "boot problems"

    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.

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    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by brightphoton View Post
    it starts to really hurt her feet.
    That's what foam pads are for.

    Quote Originally Posted by brightphoton View Post
    there's something wrong with the blade and prevents her from jumping well.
    Blade placement is a trial and error process.

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    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.

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    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).

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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 by aliceanne; 04-06-2012 at 07:00 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliceanne View Post
    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?
    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?

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    Quote Originally Posted by doubleflutz View Post
    the total cost of high end boots and blades can easily get up to $8K-$10K a pair?
    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?

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    Quote Originally Posted by aliceanne View Post
    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.
    I know Patrick Chan does.

  14. #14
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    crazy

    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    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?
    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    skateboy - what level did you skate at?
    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.

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    This thread makes me think about pointe shoes...
    Nubka - Unpaid Slave Laborer...

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    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. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by skateboy View Post
    (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!)
    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. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    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.
    I was referring to the importance of the maker/manufacturer, not the breaking in time.
    Nubka - Unpaid Slave Laborer...

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    Quote Originally Posted by nubka View Post
    I was referring to the importance of the maker/manufacturer, not the breaking in time.
    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.

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