Precision Skate Sharpening

March 7, 2013 § 5 Comments

Fancy name for something every serious skater does for their skates: maintaining the sharpness of their blades. Money is money though, and when you hear there’s a 7 dollar option compared to the 30 dollar option, you’re going with the 7 dollar option every single time, right?

Is that what Brian Boitano would do?

Is that what Brian Boitano would do?

Pro Shop Sharpening

  • 7 dollars at Oakland Ice Rink’s pro shop, plus you get your skates back right away.
  • 12 dollars at Yerba Buena (San Francisco) Ice Rink’s pro shop, have to leave your skates at the shop overnight.

You save money but you run the risk of employees taking too much metal off of the blade, dramatically decreasing the longevity of the blade before you have to purchase new blades, which run anywhere from 100 to 500 dollars. Along with taking too much metal, you might not find out until it’s too late when the sharpening is uneven, which can be the case when the employee pays too much attention to one side of the blade more than the other. You may have a hard time skating around the rink, doing patterns around the ice, or even jumping and spinning because your skates weren’t evenly sharpened. Combine uneven, slippery edges and a shorter blade lifespan and you may increase the risk of injury.

Also, not all blades are the same. This treatment of your skating blades might be fine if you’re starting out with some stock blades. If you have something like Paramount or Gold Seal blades that you just recently spent 400 to 500 bucks on, you’re not looking forward to shitty treatment of your blades and having to buy another pair of expensive blades soon.


For your wallet’s sake.

Not Sharpening Them At All

  • I’m feeling lazy
  • I have midterms
  • I haven’t beaten this level of Candy Crush yet, so hold on one second
  • Santa Rosa is soooooooooooo far
  • Novato is soooooooooooo far
  • Berkeley is soooooooooooo far
  • I don’t have any money (and proceed to go out and have a few drinks with friends)

Whatever reason it is that’s keeping you from getting your skate sharpened, that’s perfectly fine. But after about 50 to 60 hours of ice time spent doing jumps, spins and footwork across the ice, your figure skating blades are akin to butter knives (which would make great displays for a Vector/Cutco representative). It’s less so about injuries here and more about the bad habits you either pick up and/or revert to when you don’t have a feel of your edges.

Because you don’t have control over your edges, you’re going to slip on anything that requires a quick change from forwards to backwards (three-turns, salchow, rockers, counters, brackets, etc.). On any edge jumps such as a loop or a lutz, you may start overcompensating with your upper body, trying to force the rotations in order to make up for your lost edges. That’s fine and dandy but when you set aside the excuses and get around to having someone sharpen your skates, those bad habits are hard to drop. The upper body overcompensation on those jumps? You’ll be off-balance, bent over at the waist, tilting at the waist, and doing something funny with your shoulders, which will throw off your center of gravity. That makes it much harder to save the landing of the jump, let alone show that you’re confidently landing the jump and transitioning off to something else.

So who would you recommend in Northern California, smartypants?

I’d recommend Salt Lake City Olympian, 4-time US Championships pewter medalist Charles Sinek. At 25 dollars, Charles offers precision sharpening for any and all blades, free skate or ice dancing at his Berkeley home. The only problem? Accessibility. Unless you talk to, take lessons in Oakland from his wife, ice dancing partner and fellow Salt Lake City Olympian Beata Handra or run into either of them at Thursday Morning Coffee Club in San Francisco, chances are that you need to introduce yourself or get one of Beata’s students to introduce you to the two. At the very least, when you know either one of them, you feel relieved when you don’t have to travel to the North Bay or spend money FedEx shipping your skates to Novato. Also, they’re the ones to make Rockerz Skate Guards and sponsor US Championships and Cal Figure Skating competitors. Championship caliber skaters and ice dancers on the Cal Figure Skating team can vouch for the high quality job that Charles does on their blades.


Next best option is Warren Glass of Sharpening Solutions, where I have my blades sharpened. Whether you let Warren know that you’re making the drive out to Novato, dropping off the skates at Redwood Empire Ice Arena in Santa Rosa, or FedEx shipping your skates, Warren comes up clutch. It was previously 25 but it’s gone up to 30 dollars, not including any toll or FedEx shipping costs.

First time you correspond with Warren, he’ll want to know what level you skate at. If you can’t immediately say the level, he can still get an idea if you tell him what jumps and spins you have down pat. Warren is familiar with the figure skating vocabulary and event spends some time skating as well. He takes off minimal amounts of metal from the blades and is open to any feedback about how the sharpening feels. If you take your skates to his Novato workshop, Warren gets the sharpening job done efficiently and quickly. If you shipped your skates, he’ll send them back out the same day. Keep an open mind and give Warren a shot. He wants to help you follow your figure skating dreams, as free of any injuries and shitty habits as possible.

Shabazz would follow his dreams.



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§ 5 Responses to Precision Skate Sharpening

  • neonspndx says:

    This is a great post. I thought the first part was hilarious. Serious skaters are uber anal about their skate sharpenings… and they have every right to be. I would find individuals who specialize in figure skate sharpening. I would not go to a local pro shop and just ask whoever to go to town. It’s probably going to be bad news at some point. Every time I’m in a new city, I find a specialist. There’s usually someone the skating community knows who has set up a skate sharpening oasis on his back porch (seriously). He/she will make your skate sharpening dreams come true. I just found my guy in Chicago. He picks up the skates and takes them home and then brings them back. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Haha, sigh. Wish I didn’t have to make an hour commute just to see the skate sharpener. On the other hand, I’d rather not see how much shipping costs I can rack up if I FedEx them (also, a slight chance of skates getting lost).

  • Skaterbabs says:

    Heh. I drive over two hours (one way) to have our skates sharpened. The result of having my daughter’s blades ruined right before a competition a couple of years ago.

  • […] My previous post regarding skate sharpening touched on one of the baddest motherf[- shut your mouth] in the North Bay in Warren Glass and the East Bay go-to sharpener, former Salt Lake Olympian ice dancer Charles Sinek. Sometimes, Novato is too far for you and other times, you don’t need to have an Olympic presence be graced upon your figure skates. What if you are a short drive away from a sharpener who has sharpened skates for 10 years and a family that has made figure skates for 60? I’m recommending Aaron Spiteri, a third-generation skate maker of the SP Teri family. […]

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