Hockey and figure skating have one main thing in common, which is that the athletes involved in both wear skates to glide across the ice. But is there a difference between the skates used by hockey players and those used by figure skaters? While they may seem similar to the untrained eye, these two types of skates are designed differently to accommodate varying purposes and goals. Here are some of the differences between ice hockey skates and figure skates.
It’s All About the Blade
If you pay special attention to a hockey game and figure skating, you’ll notice that the movements are slightly different. The most important concerns for figure skaters are maintaining balance and maneuvering complicated turns. To help with this, their blades are designed to include an interior and exterior edge that is hollow in the middle. The blade may appear flat, but it’s really slightly curved so that the front and back of the blades lift slightly off the ice.
Because hockey tends to be slightly more fast-paced and action-packed, the blades used on hockey skates tend to have a more dramatic curve at the ends paired with a flatter middle. The hockey blade is also a bit narrower than its figure skating counterpart – it is approximately 3 mm, as opposed to 4 mm for the figure skate blade. This design in the hockey skate is meant to allow for high speeds and precise stopping ability, as well as accommodating quick and dramatic turns.
Finally, hockey skate blades lack the toe pick that is found infigure skate blades. The purpose of the jagged toe pick is to help with sharp turns, jumps, and other complex maneuvers, which are essential for figure skaters.
What About the Boot?
There is also a difference between hockey skates and figure skates boots. Brands like Riedell ice skates offer skates that differ in both composition and material. Made from a hard nylon and synthetic leather duo, hockey skates are designed to protect the wearer’s feet and ankles while also allowing some give for sharp turns and sudden movements. While the material stops just above the ankle, the back is extended to give added protection to the tendon. Hockey boots also have a little extra padding for added comfort.
Figure skates, on the other hand, are stiffer, slimmer, and are made from several layers of heavy leather. This might sound uncomfortable, especially compared to the extra room in the hockey boots, but the thick leather in the figure skating boots is designed to provide stiff ankle protection and support. This can be a lifesaver in terms of avoiding injury during angled turns and jumps.
There are other, smaller features that help distinguish a hockey skate from a figure skate. Hockey skates will often have a “toe box” with hardened material at the tip of the skate, for added protection. Additionally, figure skate boots are typically high all around, while hockey skate boots are lower in the front and higher in the back.
While hockey skates and figure skates may look very similar, there are subtle differences that can be observed upon looking closely. But beyond the differences, both types of skates are a necessity to the athletes who use them.