I want to start out with huge thanks to everyone who offered assistance in our search for teeny tiny toddler figure skates.
Three moms from SkaterGirl’s club offered their daughters’ first skates for TinyTot. All are too big, but we’ll hold on to one pair as a long-term loan. She’ll grow. And then the Facebook community responded immediately with help and heartfelt well-wishes from all sorts of sources -some expected, some surprising. That’s how we ended up finding TinyTot’s skates.
One helpful response included a link to a pair on eBay. I lost that pair in a last-second outbid situation. I was bummed, but sometimes these things really work out for the best. I kept searching eBay and found a brand new pair of pink Jackson Softec skates – for less than half the price of retail and free shipping! Still more than I intended to spend going into this adventure, but every time I got my hopes up, and every day we got closer to the first lesson, the price expectation rose just a little. Funny how that happens. Ha.
I wasn’t sure whether soft skates would be ok or if she needed leather boots. So I texted SkaterGirl’s coach (who was very kind to respond while on well-deserved vacation). She said they’d be great starter skates. Sold!
Look how happy she is with her new skates! Aww… worth it.
The tiny skate socks arrived in the mail, too. I found all the winter gear, washed it, and labeled it with her name. Now all TinyTot needs are soakers and hard guards…
I measured TinyTot’s feet according to charts and instructions on the Riedell and Jackson websites, but I figured I should take my own advice and get a good professional fitting.
Not only is it good to get a professional opinion, but it’s really fun for the little skater.
When we got to the skate & ski shop, I filled out a brief survey about her skating level and intended use of the skates. They carefully measured her feet and got out little skating socks for her -“just like (SkaterGirl)’s,” TinyTot giggled. (Shopping note to self: get a little pair of skating socks)
I mean. Seriously! How cute are those itty bitty skates?! And they fit perfectly! Jackson skates, at least for girls, run smaller. A 7 in Riedell is an 8 in Jackson (approximately). So I asked the big question: What do these cost? Jackson Mystique, Toddler Size 8 = $119. So… yeah… more than I had planned to spend for first-lesson-on-the-ice skates.
I haven’t given up on finding used skates (yet!) so, for now, the search continues…
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:
Wear (or bring) the socks Kiddo’s going to skate in
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!
Especially for the beginner skates, shopping around and on the internet can really pay off
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.
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?
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.
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:
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!