How to Determine the Best Root Radius For You!
To determine a preferred root radius for a specific figure skater the following factors need to be considered for a set blade thickness: ice temperature, the skater’s weight, the skater’s skill level, and the skater's skating style.
A skater’s skill level and style of skating are the primary reasons we cannot guarantee an ideal root radius for a skater given ice temperature and the skater’s weight. Based on these factor’s the skater will have a preference on the perceived sharpness. PBHE has national skaters on 5/16 to 8/16 root radiuses based on their preference. The main advantage to skater’s is that with PBHE they have the ability to try different root radiuses and select the root that meets their needs. The final decision on blade curve and root radius is totally that of the skater. The suggested root radiuses (R.R.) in the chart below are based on a freestyle blade (~150 thou) and an average ice temperature of -5°C or 23°F. This chart is only a guideline.
Step 1: Determine Skating Skill Level (Trainee, Intermediate, or Advanced). Find the two columns that are directly below your determined skill level on the Root Radius Recommendation Chart.
Step 2: Determine Skating Style (Soft or Aggressive). Based on Skating Skill Level and Skating Style you now know what column your recommended root radius will fall under.
Step 3: Find your weight grouping in the leftmost column of the chart and follow that row across to the column you identified in Step 2. The intersecting root radius is your recommended root radius based on this chart.
Skater's Skill Level Definitions:
Trainee: Slightly unsure of balance, single jumps, Star Skate Competitor
Recommended Trainee Curve: 7 ft. Curve
Intermediate: Skating is just as natural as walking, double jumps, centred spins, footwork is smooth, Competitive and Star Skate Competitor
Recommended Intermediate Curve: 7-8 ft. Curve
Advanced: Body movement does not disrupt balance when skating, triple jumps, centered and fast spins, complex footwork, Competitive Competitor
Recommended Advanced Curve: 8 ft. Curve
Skater's Style Definitions:
Soft: Skater almost floats on the ice and does not rely on sharp, deep edges
Aggressive: Skater has a deep knee bend, and powerful, controlled edges
PBHE can hone blades to 11/32, 13/32, or 15/32 root radius upon special request.
Blade thickness varies depending on the style of blade. It is important to know that the same root radius (or same size of coin used) on a thicker blade is sharper. For example, for the same 6/16 root radius, a Pattern 99 which has a blade thickness of 155 thou will have a sharper edge than an MK Dance blade which is only 122 thou thick.
Tapered blades like Gold Seal and Phantoms have a 155 thou thickness at the front half of the blade and then tapper to 122 thou on the back half. This results in more grip on the front half of the blade (to aid in landings) than at the back half of the blade.
Ice temperature is important in determining a preferred blade root because it impacts how hard or soft the ice is. If the ice is lower in temperature (-5°C or 23°F) than it will be harder and the blade’s edge will not cut into the ice as deep. How deep an edge cuts into the ice changes the perceived sharpness to the skater. Because of this, a blade with the same root radius will feel sharper on softer ice than harder ice. To get the same grip on harder ice a skater must use their knees more, which generates more pressure and grip into the ice. This is when skater’s can really hear their blades carving into the ice.
Rinks with boards generally have colder ice temperatures because the boards help keep the cold air at ice level. Generally, the warmest part on an ice surface should be around 28 °F or -2.2 °C. If the skater trains on a rink without boards but is going to compete on one with boards (or vice versa) it is recommended to skate enough times on the competition ice to get comfortable with how the different ice temperature effects how sharp the skater’s edges are perceived.
The skater’s weight effects how deep their edges sink into the ice. Similar to ice temperature, the deeper the edge sinks into the ice the sharper the edge will feel. If a skater maintains the same skating skill level but gains weight their edges will seem sharper. If the skater's skill level improves while they gain weight they may find that they can control and prefer the new sharper sensation.
This is one of the primary concerns as to why figure skaters should not be on the same root radius as a hockey player. Hockey players are often above 200 lbs after all of their equipment, which is significantly more than the average figure skater. If a figure skater has a hockey player’s root radius the edge will seem significantly duller. Not to mention, hockey players want some side slip given it is a contact sport.
Skater’s Skill Level
As a skater becomes more comfortable on the ice they may desire or need sharper edges to increase their feeling and connection to the ice. A sharper edge also helps grab the ice when a landing may be slightly off balance. At the same time the skater needs to be able to control their blades so they do not catch their edges while doing footwork. Going to a sharper root radius is a very personal choice which only the skater can decide.
Skater’s Skating Style
Every skater has a unique style of skating which generates different pressure and movement through their blades. The skater’s strength, balance, rhythm, and co-ordination highly impacts their control, flow, and glide over the ice. As a result, some skaters prefer to skate on sharper edges while others prefer less sharp edges to complete their elements and choreography. In each category of skill level we have created sub groups of a soft skating style and an aggressive skating style. The skater’s skill level and style determines the skater’s preference and is what we call the skater’s fine tuning. This is why the above chart is only a guide.