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Why are Ladies figure skates White?

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by ryanbfan, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. FSWer

    FSWer Well-Known Member

    I wondered about why colors mattered with women/men. As anyone should be able to choose what color they wanted. So it's all in Sonja wanting herself and woman to stand out while skating? I wonder too if she actually thought black was bad luck. LOL.
  2. Cloudy_Gumdrops

    Cloudy_Gumdrops New Member

    You're not the only one.

    It so baffled me that I just had to open the thread.

    I hate it when my eyes play tricks on me like that. :lol:
  3. Choupette

    Choupette Well-Known Member

    Same here, Cloudy_Gumdrops and burntBREAD! :lol:
  4. Bonita

    Bonita Active Member

    I've had that problem twice, thinking, is this a racist thread? Senior moments....

    I actually like over-the-boot tights, strangely I find beige boots to be more fugly. I don't mind white if they match the outfit, but sometimes a black skating dress with white boots looks WTF - I mean, would you wear a black dress to a party with white boots? OTOH I regularly wear same on the ice, only because I'm too poor to keep replacing those easily run over-the-boot tights whereas my regular ones last forever.
  5. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

    Not to mention trying to break in multiple pairs of boots would be ridiculous!

    Not necessarily. Every culture has a different relationship with color. Funeral/mourning color in the Western world are black, but in India and Southeast Asia, white is a funereal color. The Taj Mahal, a mausoleum, is white.

    While I strongly prefer white skates, over-the-boot tights are not that bad. The WORST look, though, is the footless tights pulled over the ankle/top portion of the skate. Stumpy! :scream:
  6. Yazmeen

    Yazmeen Well-Known Member

    I wear those footless OTB tights over regular tights for practice ONLY, usually under skating pants. They are great for an extra layer of warmth; however, I'd never wear them for a performance, they just don't look good.
  7. Sasha'sSpins

    Sasha'sSpins Well-Known Member

    I was just thinking that Sonia had studied ballet and perhaps wanted to translate white ballet shoes to the ice by using their basic color for her skates-especially for numbers like The Dying Swan. :cool:

    I did too. :D
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  8. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

    Yeah, in practice, anything goes. I used to wear nude tights pulled down over the heel, but not the rest of the skate.
  9. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    It's worse than that. $1000 is more the starting price for a good pair of custom skates and blades.
  10. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

    My daughter skates pairs and her skates look like hell within a few weeks of getting them. They are sliced and diced, punctured, and dragged on the ice from all the moves they do. Before they're worn out there will be chunks of leather missing. Sometimes she covers them with white tape for competition, but most of the time it's better to cover them up with OTB tights.

    In the past I had a shoe repair place refinish skates, and they looked pretty good after that. But with pairs skating that doesn't last long so I don't do it anymore.
  11. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

    Nope, I made that mistake also. I opened the thread expecting to see a flame war.
  12. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    The sad thing is ... we still don't know for sure why ladies figure skates are white (Just some theories and mythical stories) but I had to endure yet another bashing of my favorite OTB tights. :lol:

    ETA My theory is that skates only came in one color due to cost issues and were black because it's practical and also went with male costumes which were often modeled after tuxes. But once female skaters started asking (and paying) for white skates, that color took off because in Western culture at that time brides and debutants wore white while grooms and gentleman wore black. IOW, it was a natural choice and once one person did it, it sweep the community making white skates profitable and therefore even more common as they could be offered for the same price as black skates.
  13. WayCon

    WayCon New Member

    I have heard that an important reason for white boots is that they make girls' feet look smaller. Sometimes, when you watch a girl, especially a gangly, say, ten year old, wearing black boots, her feet look like half her body mass.
  14. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

    Isn't there an exhibit on the history of figure skating boots and blades at the US Figure Skating Museum in Colorado Springs? Perhaps that could shed some light on when and why white skates came into existence. A call to the archivist there might answer this question.
  15. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

    This discussion made me curious, so I went looking in a few skating books I own, and I found the answer! In the book "Talking Figure Skating" by Beverly Smith (c 1997), there is a 15-page chapter on the art of bootmaking and how John Knebli, a shoemaker from Hungary, moved to Toronto, Canada and was commissioned to make handmade skating boots. Here is an excerpt from the book re: the origin of white boots (approx mid 1940s):

    "As a young man with money in his pocket, Knebli had taken himself to ballets and shows and developed an artist's eye. Based on what he saw, he preferred to make white skates for female skaters. White skates "lift" a skater, making her look as if she floats on the ice, hardly touching it, moving with light, he said. A strip of white on the skirt area helps, too, for the same reason, he said."

    "In Knebli's opinion, the now popular beige skates don't have the same effect. Knebli made no bones about it; he didn't like them for competitions."

    Knebli also invented the low-cut boot style in the late 1950s, which he created for Canadian Bob Paul's pairs partner Barbara Wagner, who had very tiny feet. Female skaters had been wearing white boots, cut high up on the calf. When they won major competitions in his low-cut boots, other skaters from around the world wanted his boots. Knebli said "that the low-cut boots gave a better proportioned look to the body of a tiny woman." Since women no longer skated in long skirts, people looked at the whole body, not just the face.

    Knebli died in 1997 at age 93. When the book came out in 1997, there were only about 15 "hand" bootmakers remaining in the world.
  16. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

  17. briancoogaert

    briancoogaert Well-Known Member

    An interesting thing.
    I have a book about history of Figure Skating, with pictures of all the World and Olympic Champions in every category.
    That's right that before Sonja Henie, ladies wore black boots.
    But in Pairs, the first lady with white boots was after World War II. Before 1945, it seems the man and the lady wore black boots.
  18. FSWer

    FSWer Well-Known Member

    Say that leads me to a question. What hapens if INDEED a Skaters tights,dress,skates,etc. should break or even wear our at the worst time (right before a competition the day before)? Do they keep spares,so at least a skater CAN skate? BTW. I have heard that you don't go 1 size down on skates when fitting them to litle kids. Can anyone confurm this and explain why?
  19. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    Charlotte Oelschlagel is pictured wearing light (can't tell if they are white or beige) in her ice ballet, which pre-dates Sonja's show career. I think as free skating became more popular skaters became interested in a more theatrical look.

    Early free skating was influenced by ballet. Now it seems more influenced by gymnastics
  20. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    I meant to say light skates