Skates: Finding the first pair

After SkaterGirl had taken several lessons in rental skates, and I felt sure she was going to stick with it, we bought her her very own skates! I had heard good things about the Play It Again Sports in Minnetonka, MN. I think the best thing we got there on that first visit was a professional fitting. Here in Minnesota, resellers like Play It Again deal in a lot of skis and skates. If you live somewhere less frozen, you may have to search a little harder. Ask at your skate school where to go for a good fitting. It doesn’t mean you have to buy them there if they’re too expensive, but at least you can get a really good measurement. And you’ll be acquainted with the pro shop when the time comes eventually for more advanced skates and blades (sold separately! I’m not even kidding!)

Things I learned about fittings:

  1. Wear (or bring) the socks Kiddo’s going to skate in
  2. Take notes
  3. Don’t feel obligated to buy anything right away. You can always “think about it.” Unless you find good used skates for a good price, then snap them up immediately!
  4. Especially for the beginner skates, shopping around and on the internet can really pay off
  5. At this point, Kiddo does not need the fancy skates sold separately from the blades, unless you have a private coach and they’re telling you differently.
  6. When buying used skates, expect a few scratches and scuffs on the boots. If you look closely at the accomplished skaters’ boots at the rink, they’re a mess! It’s about the quality of the boot and blade. And magic erasers and sneaker whitener are inexpensive.

QueenMommy tip: look for a quality used skate with a properly fitted and properly sharpened blade. We stumbled upon a leather pair of Riedells for $20! They were dirty on the outside, like maybe they had been thrown in the bottom of the hall closet and forgotten, but the inside was good and the blades still had life. And most importantly, they fit SkaterGirl. So we bought them, and I took a magic eraser to the boots when we got home. Add a little elbow grease and they looked good as new! Now I always carry a magic eraser in the competition bag.

Why not adjustable skates?Kids adjustable skates

There are these things called adjustable skates. They are inexpensive (for new skates) and they’re kind of cute and seem like a great bargain, as the boot can be adjusted to fit 4 shoe sizes. What a deal! Except…

Think about it with me: only the boot adjusts; the blade does not lengthen or shorten. So when the boot is at its smallest, the blade sticks out way beyond the boot, making it very difficult to do what is asked during a skating lesson. Likewise, when the boot is fully extended, the blade is too short. I’m not a skater, but it seems like that would add a lot of frustration to an already difficult sport.

Better Options

Here are three (of many) beginner options under $75 from quality brands, Riedell and Jackson. I have heard from skate school pros that something like these would be a fine choice:

Riedell Model 18 Sparkle Jr. Skate Set
Riedell Model 18 Sparkle Jr. Skate Set


Jackson Ultima Girls' SoftSkate 181
Jackson Ultima Girls’ SoftSkate 181
Riedell 10 Opal Figure Skate
Riedell 10 Opal Figure Skate

I’ve been happy that we’ve had good luck finding white skates for SkaterGirl. You may not think you’ve got competitions and ice shows and teams and whatever else in your future, but… it happens before you know it. And you’ll probably want and/or need white figure skates for girls and black figure skates for boys.

I’d love to hear your first skates stories and questions in the comments!

Next up: Caring for your skates