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Hairstylists and Skate Blades

For us gals, one of the greatest moments of horror is often when we call our favorite salon to make an appointment with our beloved stylist and we’re told that he or she no longer works at that establishment.  The waves of fear come over us as we panic!  After years of searching, we’d finally found someone we could trust to make our hair look exactly the way we wanted.  Now, after begging the salon to tell us where the stylist is now working are futile, we realize we have to start the journey over again, and we are very afraid to trust someone new with our hair.

I have found that just as much trust is involved with skate sharpening as with hairstyling.  

During my first season playing hockey, a couple of games into the season, I went to have my skates sharpened.  I brought them to a place that specialized in skate sharpening.  It was the first time I had ever had them sharpened!  I arrived at my next game ready to tear up the ice with my new blades.  

With my newly sharpened skates, I went out to warm up with my team and noticed the skates slipping a bit. I figured I would just have to adjust to the fresh edges. Soon the game started, and during the first period, I lost my balance and fell right at center ice. As a beginner, I had fallen many times before and gotten right back up. This time was different. I attempted to stand up, and as I was partway up, I went crashing back to the ice. The game continued around me. I tried again to get up, but as before, fell right back down. I was so embarrassed. My teammates skated by and asked if I was okay, but they weren’t about to stop in the middle of the game, already short by one skater, to help me up. Finally, I arose and made it to the bench. I was laughing about the incident because I knew I wasn’t very good at skating and it must have been comical to watch.

Later, in the next period, the same thing happened again, but this time right in front of the other team’s bench. Was this more embarrassing than floundering around on center ice? Probably. After a couple unsuccessful attempts again, with the opposition players leaning over the boards to stare down at this inexplicable folly, I finally got up and made my way to the bench. This time I wasn’t laughing.

In the third period, the same thing happened again, but this time when I fell, I took an opponent and a referee down with me. My muscles were so tired from my previous falls and attempts to get up that I had even more trouble getting back on my skates. On one attempt to rise, my leg slid out from under me and pulled a muscle in my thigh. When I finally did get up, I limped off the ice. This time I was crying.

My coach and teammates insisted there was something wrong with my skates. I thought they were just being nice and trying to make me feel better by blaming my embarrassing episode on something other than my poor skills.  One of my teammates took my skate and kept running her fingernail on it and assuring me that something was wrong.  I didn’t believe this, and on the drive home from the arena that night, I thought long and hard about giving up hockey completely because I had been so embarrassed.

I had my doubts that anything was actually wrong with the skates, as opposed to being wrong with me, but I did take my skates in before the next game (to a different pro shop) and learned, much to my surprise, that my skates HAD been sharpened incorrectly. The person who had sharpened them forgot to put a hollow in the bottom of the blade, as the was explained to me by the tech in great detail . Essentially, a skate blade has two opposite edges of less than 90 degrees. My skates did not have that and the blade was flat on the bottom!

I had the skates resharpened and never had the same problem again! The good news is that I went back out on the ice for the next game even though my embarrassment tempted me to give up hockey for good.

After this episode, I realized the importance of having a good skate sharpener you can trust, who sharpens your skates consistently and correctly.  I have found “my guy” at the sports store in the local mall, and I will not let anyone else sharpen my skates.  If he’s not there, I find out when he will be, and I go back later.  I just can’t take a chance of having a problem with my skates being sharpened incorrectly again!  Even though the results wouldn’t be as disastrous as they were when I was a newer skater, I wouldn’t ever want to take the chance of having to miss out on a game because of an equipment malfunction!

Sometimes I wonder if I will go to that store someday in need of a resharpening and be told that my guy no longer works there.  I will be devastated and anxious.  I will feel the same as when I lose a trusted hairdresser.  But, in reality, hair is just hair—that’s why we have hat options!  But hockey is far more important than hair (and I’m assuming you’d agree or you probably wouldn’t be on this website)!.  Find “your guy/gal” who you can trust with your blades, make sure he or she knows how much you appreciate him or her!  But just like with hairstylists, you might have to take a risk to find the one who is right for you!


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