Nordic Skate FAQ
|Why Nordic Skates?
Nordic Skates are convenient. Easy to put on and take off. You can walk or drive to the ice in your own warm, comfortable boots that don't pinch your feet or freeze your toes.
The blades clip on and off in 10 seconds. Plus they're safe, stable, fun and FAST.
How do they compare to hockey and figure skates?
Nordic Skates glide twice as far as conventional skates. That's because they glide
on top of the ice, instead of digging in. Your weight's more distributed on a longer blade,
and you have more stability. So you can skate on bumpier ice on Nordic Skates,
without tripping and stumbling the way you would on hockey skates,
or on figure skates with their dangerous "toe picks".
Hockey and figure blades leave deep gouges in the ice. Nordic Skate tracks are almost invisible! So you can skate a lot farther (or faster) without getting tired.
Nordic blades have long, curved tips just like skis, so they don't trip you up on rough ice the way hockey and figure skates do. You can even skate through up to 5 inches of snow on top of the ice.
How do they compare to speed skates?
Nordic Skates are way more comfortable than speed skates. Nordic Skates keep your toes warmer. And Nordic Skates give you more ankle support. Plus they're a lot easier to put on and take off than speed skates.
Nordic Skates are cross-country ice skates made for recreational touring. The blades are similar to speed skate blades, so if you want to go fast, you can. But Nordic boots are designed for comfort, so you avoid the pinched feet, cold toes and floppy ankles that you get from conventional speed skates.
What length blades should I get?
Nordic Skates come in four different lengths. Shorter blades are best for confined spaces with smoother ice, such as small ponds and indoor rinks. Longer blades are best for soft ice, for bumpy ice, and for straight-ahead skating on large bodies of frozen water, such as canals, lakes and rivers. The final decision is up to you, but here are our recommendations:
Boot sizes up to 40 (up to US men's 7.5): 40cm (15") or 45cm (17").
Boot sizes 41 to 45 (US men's 8 to 11.5): 45cm (17") or 50cm (19").
Boot sizes 46 and up (US men's 12 and up): 50cm (19") or 55cm (21").
What bindings do I need on my blades?
We'll select the correct bindings to match the boots you'll be skating in.
Choices include Salomon Pilot, Profil and X-Adventure; Rottefella NNN-3, NNN-2 and NNN-BC.
Can I use them with the boots I already have?
It all depends on your boots.
Nordic Skates clip onto cross-country ski boots that have a metal bar molded into the toe of the boot. The best boots for Nordic Skating are "skate" and "combi" models from Alpina, Fischer, Hartjes, Rossignol, Salomon and Sportful, because they have good ankle support and stiffness for skating. But your XC ski boots will work with Nordic Skates if they have one of the following logos stamped into the boot soles:
SNS Pilot, SNS Profil, SNS XA, SNS Backcountry, NNN, NNN-II or NNN-BC.
Click here for photos of Pilot, Profil and NNN boot soles.
Multiskates strap onto a wide variety of boots. We recommend insulated winter hiking boots with good ankle support.
Telemark Skates clip or strap onto plastic or 3-pin leather telemark ski boots.
Would I be better off getting a new pair of boots?
You need a pair of ski boots with good ankle support, or you need strong ankles to enjoy skating. If your ankles aren't the strongest, a stiffer pair of boots will improve your skating immensely.
We offer a $20 discount on most boots (except closeouts) if you order them with a pair of blades. We can advise you which boots to get, based on your shoe size, the width of your feet, the shape of your arch, and your budget. We get it right about 90% of the time, and if you're one of the other 10%, we offer 30-day exchange/refund privileges on unused boots. Try them on indoors, lace them up, walk around in them. (Just don't take them outdoors until you're sure you're going to keep them.) If you don't like the fit, box them up and send them back to us for an exchange or refund.
Do I need safety equipment?
If you're on a groomed, maintained ice surface, the organization maintaining the ice assumes responsibility for your safety.
If you're "wild skating" outdoors on an unmaintained, untested ice surface, safety is your responsibility. You should have at least one other person with you. And at least 2 people in your group should be carrying the following minimum set of approved safety equipment:
1. Swedish Ice Pole for testing the strength of the ice.
2. Ice Claws to pull yourself out of a hole in the ice.
3. Nordic Lifeline to rescue another victim from a hole in the ice.
4. A backpack containing a set of dry clothes sealed inside an airtight plastic bag. If you fasten the waist strap on your backpack, it will act like a life preserver in an emergency.
Should I use poles?
If you're a complete beginner, poles really help you keep your balance and give you the confidence to venture out on the ice. If you like to cross-country ski, you'll probably enjoy Nordic Skating with poles. It feels like skiing, except Nordic Skating is twice as fast for half the effort! In adverse conditions - soft, bumpy or snow-covered ice - poles can be a big help. But when the ice is perfect, smooth, hard and black, most people skate without poles - except when using them to test the strength of the ice.
Is my heel really free?
Actually, no. The blade performs as if it's locked onto your heel. Why? An extra-stiff skate bumper in the XC binding makes the entire blade move with your boot. When you lift your boot, the blade comes up too. It doesn't dangle or drag on the ice. You get the convenience of a single attachment point at the toe of your boot, so the blades are easy to put on and take off. But you get total control over your blades. Your boot sole and the XC binding use an interlocking ridge-and-channel system that transmits all your lateral force into the blade.
What are Nordic Skates made of?
Nordic Skate blades are made of Swedish knife steel that's gone through a special hardening process. The blade is attached to an aluminum deck that is pre-drilled for all models of cross-country ski bindings. Multiskates are made of the same Swedish steel and aluminum construction, but have a wider deck and different bindings.
Dutch Nordic Skates are made of lower-quality steel bolted to a hardwood deck.
The Zandstra Delta & Delta NIS have a super-hard race-quality Dutch speedskate blade bonded to a rigid aluminum deck.
How do I keep my skates sharp?
Nordic Skates come factory-sharpened and typically hold their edge for a full season. You can do 2 things to keep the edges sharper longer:
1. Take a few steps onto the ice before clipping them on, and unclip them before stepping off the ice. You'll avoid any areas of dirt tracked onto the ice by other skaters.
2. Rotate your blades left to right. Most wear occurs on the inside edge of the blade. By rotating them you'll wear both edges equally.
If your blades get dull, we recommend hand-sharpening with our Nordic Skate sharpening kit. The process takes about 10 minutes. Nordic blades are flat-ground, not hollow-ground, and most skate shops don't know how to sharpen flat-ground blades.
How do I stop?
In a life-or-death emergency, do a "hockey stop" (a quick sideways twist). If it's not an emergency, slow down gradually by "snowplowing" like on skis, or turning into the wind, or coasting to a gradual stop. Avoid hockey stops because they dull your blades. That's why hockey players need their skates sharpened so often!
Can I skate backwards?
Only on smooth ice. And only at your own risk. Nordic skates are "squared off" at the tail because they are not designed for skating backwards.
Skate safely and have fun!
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