Buying ice skates in southern Indiana
November 25, 2019 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Where, within a three hour drive (one way) of Bloomington Indiana, can I go to see and try on a selection of figure skates and get some professional fitting advice for my kiddo?

My 12 year old son loves, loves! ice skating. He is taking lessons and attends every available public session at our local rink. We're both now frustrated with the rental skates he uses: fit and sharpness are irritatingly variable. My son hasn’t liked what we’ve found online: we've ordered and sent back two pairs already. He needs to look at a bunch of skates and make a choice based on necessary compromises and a thorough understanding of what’s available. We're happy to make a day trip to find what we need. Any other advice about fitting skates and what to look for and what to avoid would be happily received.
posted by firstdrop to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)
Have you tried Johnston's Hockey Shop in Bloomington? They used to have figure and sport skates as well as hockey skates.

It also might be worth it to ask your son's instructor for advice. I'd bet they know where to get skates locally.
posted by cooker girl at 12:44 PM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What size does your son wear, boys or mens? Yes, please ask the instructor and at the facility.
If one of your local Dick's Sporting Goods won't get skates in stock for try-ons, Richmond, Indiana is home to Skates, U.S -- they might offer some direction, or have hours when they're open to the public. (Linking to 'savings center' section -- company caters to pro skaters, and is $$$).
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:47 PM on November 25, 2019

Best answer: Hi. I'm a skater, though I don't live in Indiana. Thoughts:

-- Yep, rental skates blow, and even if he's just an interested hobbyist (vs. a kid on a serious competitive path) he should get out of rentals ASAP.

-- Does your rink have a pro shop? If not, do any other local rinks? You're right that trying on skates in person is hugely important...but also it's probably not so important at this point (per his skill level) that he needs The Best pro shop in your area. If your kid is sort of in a normal 12-year-old range for height, weight, foot size, etc. he should not be hard to fit at all. Have you asked his coach(es)?

-- So he should be fitted, but also a big adjustment right now for him is going to be transitioning out of rentals into "real" skates. First of all, the broken-down interiors of the rental skates are, sadly, more comfortable than what a "real" skate is going to feel like on him. New skates will be way stiffer, to begin with. They're most likely going to feel wrong! They're most likely going to feel painful! Part of the solution will be just to get used to them. Another part will be the ability of the fitter to punch out areas of the skate, and/or heat mold them to his feet. (What I mean by this is the ones you sent back might not be "wrong" skates at all -- there's going to be a necessary unpleasant period as he goes through adjustment.) Even really experienced skaters getting the best possible skates for them + with professional fitting have an awkward break-in period. So, Mom, this may be an area where you need to help him work through this period where things feel wrong, but they're actually going to be much better for him in the long run. These good, stiff skates with good blades are going to be the thing that helps him improve.

-- There's a secondary adjustment with better skates: the blade can be moved. He might put on a pair and feel like they're ready to go, or he may decide this is another area that just feels wrong... Like, it's impossible to do a straight forward glide on one foot. Or he feels like he can't get on his outside edge. Having the blade moved incrementally (hopefully at the pro shop at your rink) can solve this problem. My example: the last pair I bought, I had the blade moved twice before it felt right. So most likely he'll get new skates that have the blades temporarily mounted with only a few rivets, and then you won't get them permanently mounted until he feels comfortable with where they are.

-- If you truly don't have any leads from your coach, I'd go to the websites of the main manufacturers -- Jackson (the brand I wear), Edea, Riedell, Risport, Harlick -- and check their "where to buy" or "find a dealer" links. I recommend Jackson because they have lots of choices at a reasonable price range, including several models that come with a blade already attached, like this one. The fact that the blades can't be moved is a small trade-off; these might be a good choice as he transitions out of rentals, esp. because I imagine he's still growing and you might not want to spend too much on skates/blades at this point.

Good luck and happy skating!
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:56 PM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I wanted to add one bit, in the category of stuff you can help him manage, expectation-wise: he should go into it thinking that everything is going to be weird at first. Snowplow stop? Weird or even impossible. Just stroking? Weird. He'll have a period of relearning skills he thought he'd mastered...but his progress will be fast. Helping him get set up for that, managing his expectations, will be essential. The transition from rentals to real skates is probably the biggest skating challenge he'll have faced yet. (Which is just good prep for skating challenges going forward.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:17 PM on November 25, 2019

Best answer: First buying skates was about the best purchase ever, lasted many year, skated today. But that was after I'd finished growing. Kid size is hard. They size about a half size different than street shoes so 9 1/2 street would fit 9. Don't know if it's safe to buy a smidge large and add socks, well better than rental. Feet are feet, consider white and doing a dye job if a pair that fit is found. They are supposed to fit like a glove and well, just, hurt until well worn in. Good luck.
posted by sammyo at 6:27 PM on November 25, 2019

Response by poster: Thank you everyone - the adventure continues. One of my son’s problems with non-rental skates is that he feels conspicuous and embarrassed in them. Once need outstrips early adolescent shyness we’ll take ourselves off to Skates US or on an overnight trip to Chicago. I really appreciate your advice about new skates feeling “wrong”; it was good to quote an authority. Meanwhile it’s Saturday night and I’m sitting at a cold rink talking to Mefites and watching the last (poor, poor) season of West Wing. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
posted by firstdrop at 5:41 PM on December 7, 2019

Response by poster: Also thank you cooker girl but that's the wrong Bloomington:)
posted by firstdrop at 6:12 PM on December 7, 2019

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