Are Ice Skating Blades Sharp? Can They Cut You?

Ice skating boots always come with various blade attachments, depending on what type of skating activity you’re doing. When you watch an ice skater, you can tell the blades are sharp by the way they carve the ice, and you might wonder just how sharp they are, or if they can cut you.

Ice skating blades are sharp, but they’re unlikely to cut you. The blades must be sharp enough to dig into the ice, as it’s very hard to skate efficiently on dull blades. While they are sharp, it requires a lot of speed and pressure for the blades to cause serious lacerations.

The blade on an ice skate is one of the most technical pieces of the boot. There are several factors that affect its overall sharpness. We’ll examine these factors in detail in the article below, so you’ll know everything you need to know about the sharpness of ice skating blades.

Why Are Ice Skates Sharpened?

Ice skates are sharpened because the overall sharpness of the blade affects how it grips the ice. It’s incredibly hard work to skate on dull blades, because the dull blades cause drag and slow a skater down. The sharper the blade, the easier it is to ice skate.

Wear and tear over time causes blades to become “burred” with little knicks that negatively affect how well the blade can grip the ice. You need to sharpen the blades to maintain their edge, which ensures your ice skates will feel agile, rather than have a mind of their own.

The sharpness of the blades also affects your overall performance, especially if you’re an advanced skater. Skating on dull blades will make it much harder to execute turns, and they can make you feel less in control and unable to balance appropriately.

A lot of people think that ice skating is smooth and slippery, but the blades give a sensation of almost being attached to the ice. For the blades to do their job properly, they have to have the correct level of sharpness.

Do Ice Skates Come Sharpened?

Some ice skates are sharpened at the factory, but that’s not always the case. A lot of the time, skaters need to specifically request that new skates be sharpened, if that’s even an option. Shipping, transportation, and handling can cause some dulling of the blades.

It’s nearly always a good idea to sharpen your ice skates before you use them for the first time. Practically every expert and manufacturer recommend you do this. Sharpening them before you use them for the first time also acts as a check to see if they’re ready for the ice.

It’s important to sharpen any new skates. Dull blades can’t grip the ice, and this is when it becomes much easier to slip and fall over. You can check your new skates are sharp enough for skating by running your thumbnail perpendicular to the blade, if a bit of your thumbnail comes off, you’re ready to go.

How Much Does It Cost To Sharpen Ice Skates?

It will cost you about $10 to $30 to sharpen your ice skates, but prices vary. Generally, if you live in a colder area where ice skating is more popular, it’s going to cost you more. Or you can sharpen the skates yourself with specialized kits. These can cost you anywhere from $20 to $60.

You can also buy sharpening stones, but these don’t replace a proper kit. Sharpening stones add the finishing touches, and they get any tiny bumps and knicks out of a blade. It’s important you do not forgo sharpening using a machine and just use a stone, however, as this can cause your blade significant breakdown over a long time.

It’s usually a good idea to go to a “pro shop” or a place that deals specifically with ice skating equipment. Taking your ice skates to a general sports shop will end up with them being sharpened by someone who doesn’t know ice skating blades all that well, which can cause more harm than good.

The same applies to sharpening the blades yourself. It takes some know-how to properly use a kit and you’ll need to work the blade in different ways, depending on which type of blade you’re sharpening. Unless you have experience, it’s best to leave the sharpening to people who know what they’re doing.

Can Ice Skating Blades Cut You?

Ice skating blades can cut you, but it’s rare. The blades must be sharp enough to penetrate the ice, so they are definitely sharp enough to penetrate your skin. However, if you’re careful, the blades are unlikely to cause any serious cuts. Newly sharpened skates are the most likely to cut you.

Applying pressure and adding some weight when you’re touching the blade could cause cuts and lacerations. If you handle the boots sensibly, then there is very minimal risk of cuts. Many ice skate sharpeners check to see if their blades are sharp enough by feeling the edges, so they’re not designed to slice you open at the slightest touch.

One of the major worries many people who’ve never ice skated before have is falling over and then someone running over their fingers and chopping them off. This is not going to happen. Ice skates are not guillotines. It’d almost be like trying to chop your fingers off with a wooden spoon.

While serious lacerations do happen, they’re incredibly rare. Most of the worse cuts happen in ice hockey, because of the constant risk of impact and the speed of the game is such that nasty collisions happen more frequently. The average recreational skater is not at risk of losing their digits on the rink, and most professional skaters still have all their fingers.

How Sharp Should Ice Skating Blades Be?

Rather than thinking in terms of sharpness, it’s better to think in terms of the “depth of cut.” You can have “deep cuts” or “shallow cuts.” The standard depth is around half an inch. This is the best cut depth for most newbies to try. The heavier a person is, the shallower the cut they need.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a lighter figure skater will want a deeper cut, because if the blade doesn’t penetrate deeply enough, it becomes much harder to balance properly. A cut that’s too shallow also makes it harder to stop and turn because the blades can’t grip the ice enough.

How Often Should You Sharpen Your Ice Skates?

There’s no set routine or formula for how often you should have your skates sharpened. Someone who skates recreationally two or three times a year might only have to sharpen their skates once a year, or maybe even less than that.

However, someone involved in ice skating as a professional may need to sharpen their skates every week. A lot of figure skaters think that after ten hours of skating their performance is affected, whereas some just sharpen their skates once every month or so. However, figure staking as a sport has tons of different turns, jumps, and twists that can deteriorate the blade quickly.

Speed skaters sharpen their skates even more frequently. Because of the sheer amount of force speed skater blades must handle, they may need sharpening every 2 to 6 hours. This may seem like a lot, but speed skating is one of the most demanding sports out there. The blades get put through a lot in a training session.

A lot of ice hockey players like to get their boots sharpened every 10 to 20 hours spent on the ice, with the frequency depending entirely on the player. Like figure skates, ice hockey skates need to be sharp enough for sudden stops and turns, and they also need to be able to handle sudden bursts of acceleration.

Other Factors

Generally, there’s some room for the individual’s preferences. Some skaters sharpen their blades frequently because they notice the effect it has on their performance. But there are also plenty of skaters that don’t pay as much attention to their blade’s sharpness, and they only choose to sharpen their blades when they feel it’s been too long.

Finally, colder, harder ice will require sharper blades. If you’re skating on an artificially created ice rink, it’ll be easier to judge how well your skates are performing. If you’re skating on natural, outdoor rinks, then it’s harder to know for sure. The ice may be a lot softer than an artificial rink, or if it’s really cold, it could be significantly harder.

How Do Figure Skaters Stand On Their Partners Without Cutting Them?

Figure skaters stand on their partners without cutting them because they practice. Figure skating couples slowly build up to their partnered lifts. This mastery takes hours of practice, so they know the best places to put their skates on their partner without cutting them.

Figure skating blades are thick, which helps prevents cuts. Each blade can be anywhere from 0.15 to 0.25 inches, and the blades are concaved (like the letter “C”) at the center. This means that the lighter figure skater’s weight is distributed across a bigger surface area.

It’s also not uncommon for male figure skaters to use extra padding. This safeguards them from injury while learning to execute a new partner lift. This is especially true in the early stages, as injuries can cause significant delays in the couple’s training process. Also, most lifts that involve the female standing on her partner don’t last very long and there isn’t enough time to cause a cut.

Overall, taking proper safety precautions and practicing for hours contribute to figuring skaters remaining cut free in competitions. Accidents do happen, and in some cases figure skaters suffer small cuts or end up with big bruises. However, they’re usually more concerned with catching their partner and finishing the lift safely.

Final Thoughts

Ice skating blades are sharp. Otherwise, they would be very difficult to skate on. However, the likelihood of sustaining serious cuts is very low. There is a greater risk of getting cuts at competitive levels, but it’s not a risk for many recreational ice skaters.