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posted: 4/22/2014 1:01 AM

Buy or rent? Skates must fit for best results

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By Arlene Miles

To make sure that beginning lessons are successful, make sure your skater has proper skates. Whether or not one can ice skate has nothing to do with weak ankles as that is nothing but a persistent myth. It's all to do with the boot and the fit.

Wait a moment, though, don't rush out immediately and buy a pair.

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"Many parents will go out and buy skates after three weeks and then they find that their kids don't want to continue," said David Santee, skating director at Oakton Ice Arena.

A better alternative is to rent skates from the rink. Rental skates are more comfortable and supportive than they were 10 or 20 years ago, with some rinks even featuring skates from Riedell, one of the top brands.

"We offer then for $3 per session or parents can buy a punch card for $20 for 10 rentals," said Francine Larson of Seven Bridges Ice Arena.

By the time that skaters reach Basic 3 or 4 in USFSA Basic Skills or ISI's Gamma or Delta level, it's time to buy your own pair. Don't use synthetic skates that grandma purchased as a present from the local sporting goods store because these won't provide enough support. It's essential to have your skater fitted properly by a professional.

"Ask your skating director about where you should go to get good skates," said Jim Johnson of Crystal Ice House.

Chances are, it may simply be the rink pro shop, but different instructors have different ideas on what skates work best, as well as who fits children properly.

For younger skaters, Kerry Murphy prefers Jackson skates as the brand has a quality boot that is not too heavy. "Once skaters get to be about 75 to 80 pounds, they need something a little bit more substantial and I recommend Riedell," Murphy said.

For a pair of beginning skates with decent blades, parents can expect to spend about $100 to $140.

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