|Dance skates last year...|
|Dance skates at the start of the season...|
|Dance skates now!|
|Roll Line Energy plate.|
(1) Proper plate size the the most important thing. The front axel should be under the ball of the foot. The back axel should be under the center heel. A longer plate will offer the skater more room for error, but that also makes it take more effort to control because it will delay the response of the skate. A properly sized plate will offer the skater better results than differences between brands or styles. Switching from the too-long dance plate to the correct size took me a while to adjust, but ultimately resulted in better skating with less stress on my knees and joints because the skate did what I wanted when I wanted with less resistance.
(2) Rubber cushions for the win! I had been skating on urethane cushions for dance, but after too many complaints about me rocking off edges I switched to all rubber. On some of the harder dances I still need to work my edge continuity, but it is much easier for me to maintain an edge on rubber cushions than on the urethane, which tend to "pop back" into the non-compressed position more quickly, and throw me off my edge. I had already been using rubber on my figure skates, but I have been enjoying them on my dance skates lately as well. I have heard the arguments for urethane, I have skated urethane, but at the end of the day I just don't think I will ever really like urethane. Yes, it lasts longer, but that is about the only positive thing I can say for it. At least as far as dance and figures go. For freestyle... well, I can see how urethane might be better suited to that sort of skating. But for me? Rubber cushions. The end.
|Medium rubber cushions for the win!|
(4) I had to borrow my sister's skates while I was waiting to transition from the Ring to the Energy, so I can now say that I have skated on Roll Line, Atlas, and Snyder. The Energy plates actually have a very similar feel to the Snyder, but the Roll Line definitely has a more solid and secure feel. I think the Dance plate actually feels closer to the Atlas, though the Energy and and Dance feel more like each other than they do to the other brands of plate. In the end the best skate is really depends on the preference of the skater, but I will say that any of the Roll Line plates could be a great option.
(5) One of the nice things about the Roll Line plates is that they easily maintain value if you take care of them. I am totally satisfied with my skate set-up at this point, and I have been selling off the equipment I know I won't have use for any longer. So though finding my ideal skate has been a bit of a long and expensive journey, getting good quality equipment has been a worthwhile investment - either because it has helped my skating improve, or because it maintained good resale value.
So, yeah, the journey of my skates. Longer than I had anticipated, but I finally really feel like they are my skates. It is something hard to describe, but there is this wonderful feeling of comfort and control when things just feel right. At this point I feel like I can finally stop analyzing and tinkering and just go skate.