When skaters fall, get a low technical score, fail a test or have a bad performance, the blame of loss or failure is always laid on the athlete. However, in many cases equipment design is the real cause of failure. For example: triple and quad jumps use blazingly fast rotation that creates enormous landing torque forces that the current market leading freestyle blade originally designed more than fifty years ago strictly for double jumps; was never intended to stop. So if an athlete fails to complete a triple or quad jump on blades that were originally designed fifty years ago for double jumps, should the blame lie with the skater or the blade design? And if a young skater is having trouble learning a new jump or getting through a test on blades that were designed a half century ago for very different element dynamics, is it the fault of the athlete or the equipment?
Put simply, the current market leading freestyle and dance blades were originally designed for elements at today's US intermediate level or below.
We just happen to go all the way up to the Olympic level on them because we have had no better alternatives. How has this situation been allowed to continue? There is a strong chance that the people who make the blades you have been using have very little if any knowledge of how they actually work in relation to every figure skating element. Most companies that supply blades to figure skating athletes have no full time employees who could be described as acutely skating knowledgeable. Therefore, they lack the essential knowledge that would enable them to design and produce relevant equipment. The entire premise of SkateScience is that this is definitely NOT okay. Skaters and coaches deserve better.
The first rule of business at SkateScience is that we have to have the highest level of understanding of the science governing blade behavior as it relates to every figure skating element at every level. This means we strive to have an in-depth understanding of exactly how every figure skating element works. 100% of the people who work for SkateScience in design are high level figure skating competitors or ex-competitors including at the Olympic level.
We consult regularly with world and Olympic coaches across the world.
Only SkateScience operates in this way to this degree. We see blades as a symbol of an almost sacred obligation to match the passion coaches and athletes pour into the sport. We are not driven by economics; we are driven by our competence to create equipment that drives the progress of the world's most beautiful sport. Corporately and individually, we have an intense and abiding passion for this sport. And every figure skating athlete can benefit from this.
An important branch of science in figure skating execution is physics. Physics enables the relationship between the shape of figure skating blades and the energy brought to bear in element execution. Every figure skating element is in effect a redirection of horizontal energy, (speed). This is achieved by a combination of the athlete's biomechanical movements and their equipment performance characteristics. Blade radius and toe pick design are a very important factor in this process. The performance of any jump, spin, turn…whatever, can be improved through blade design by directing the transfer of stroking initiated horizontal energy in a more effective way. If an athlete's biomechanical efforts represent the engine of a figure skating element, blades are the suspension and steering. Put simply, intelligent blade design through scientific application and acute element knowledge can help skaters at every level skate every element better.
At SkateScience we found that we could design blade performance to achieve practically anything we wanted it to.
We used Dartfish, extensive world coach consultation and athlete input. And we spent time with two mechanical engineers. We found that we could design more powerful stroking, better flow, more stability, different jump trajectory, more effective pre-jump energy concentration, stronger pre jump rotation, better twizzle and lift rotation "sweet spot," better spin rotation retention, stronger lobing, better jump "flow out," stronger landing "stick," more defined footwork turns, more stable toe steps…on and on. Once we understood the technical requirements of the different elements and the physical capabilities of the steel shape, it was just a case of design, testing, fine tuning the design, testing, modifying the design again… on and on, until we were satisfied that our products were performing as well as possible.
We looked at the pros and cons of lightweight blades verses steel. No real scientific evidence has been advanced to prove a performance advantage between lightweights and steel blades and we could not find any.
We believe that the very small ratio difference between lightweights and steel blades in relation to the overall boot and blade weight and the athlete's body weight are so small as to be functionally irrelevant.
According to our research, only the SHAPE of the blade that actually touches the ice has any major effect on blade performance. Therefore, making a blade lightweight without improving the radius and toe pick designs is like putting lipstick on a pig. It may look different and you may be able to charge more money for it… but it is still a pig.
Further, lightweights have a detrimental influence on centrifugal force which is a very important factor in multi rotation jumps and spins. Then when we added into the equation the incidence of lightweight blade failure through cracking and even outright disintegration, it was obvious that stainless steel blades were the direction a performance driven design should take. Nobody wants their blades to fail right before or during competition or testing.
SkateScience blades are designed as an extension of the Step Skates brand. Step Skates has been manufacturing the highest quality skate blades in North America for decades and is recognized as a premium quality manufacturer of these products. All SkateScience blades are made from high grade stainless steel, (the leading blades are carbon steel which is softer, rusts and does not hold an edge as long) that was developed specifically for ice skating by our Swedish mill, exclusively for us. Stainless steel is harder than high carbon steel from which most blades are made and therefore holds an edge longer.
SkateScience blades may hold their edge twice as long as conventional blades saving money and keeping the original radius design intact longer.
Stainless steel is a much more expensive alloy to manufacture blades from than carbon steel and fabrication is far more complex. However, since SkateScience is the brand that represents the highest form of figure skating performance, we feel that our athlete customers will agree that the only real choice is to use the best possible material.