- Parent Category: Money
Typical costs for different skaters
Young child just starting to skate: $50-$75
Older child or Adult just starting to skate: $75-$130
Young child learning to figure skate: $100-$200
Older child learning to figure skate: $140-$220
Child advancing through mid levels of figure skating: $230-$400
Higher level skaters: $400-$2000 (buying your boots and blades separately.
You can spend a lot more in most of these categories but it's not necessary if you get a good fit with a less expensive skate.
Guidelines for buying skates
I'll assume that ultimately you're figuring your child will continue into figure skating and isn't just going to learn to skate and then call it a day. If that's the case, you don't need particularly expensive skates if it's a young child learning to skate. You can find reasonable skates starting from $50 to $60. An older child or an adult, you're probably going to be spending a bit more. If they're just learning to skate, they don't need a figure blade with picks on the toe. A hockey type blade is fine for learning the basics. However, if your skater is going to figure skate, there will be some transition time as they switch from the hockey blade to a figure blade. Some people advocate getting figure skates immediately but I liked having my kids learn without picks first. That way they don't start out by pushing themselves along with their picks and learn to stroke properly.
If you're starting out, you don't want to buy cheap skates but you also don't want to spend too much. Expensive skates offer a lot more support for the skater who is landing jumps. The bigger the jumps, the more support you need but too much support makes the skate difficult to flex which makes it difficult to skate if you don't know how to skate. So a more expensive skate isn't better for a beginning skater.
As you might expect, the higher the level of skating you reach, the more expensive the skates get. As you move higher in ability, you'll start buying the skating boot separate from the blade. If your skater does ice dance as well as figure skating at a fairly high level, you're looking at different types of boots and blades for each (dance blades are shorter at the back and the picks at the front aren't as scary looking). Synchronized skaters use skates with blades similar to dancers.
You may also consider gently used skates. Young kids often out-grow their skates before they're broken in let alone worn out. Some skate shops resell skates on consignment that were purchased from them. It doesn't hurt to ask if they have any suitable used skates. It's a good way to save a few bucks. We've even lucked out and found some new but discontinued skates in the used category, so it's worth a look.
Keep in mind that a good skate shop will size the skates properly to your skater's foot and that will likely mean leaving about half a size of growth space. It's important not to buy the skate too big with the "they'll grow into it" or the "we'll get two years out of these" attidute. A skate that doesn't fit snugly makes it difficult to skate in. Executing even the simplest figure skating moves requires a firm connection between the foot and blade and that's what the boot is doing. Resist the urge to buy too large a skate. You can usually expect to get one year out of a pair of skates. I've seen some kids feet grow so quickly that they had to break in a second pair part way through the year. I've also seen a girl who skated really well in skates that were a size and half too large so they lasted 2 years. However, that's the exception and loose skates really do make it harder.
Good fit really matters!
Figure skating is not like other skating. The skater must have absolute, precise control over their blade to execute spins and jumps properly. As a result, their foot must be firmly connected to the skate. When a skater moves to a deep edge, their foot can be moving around in the skate. You don't want the skate to be so tight that it's uncomfortable, but you don't want it to be so loose that their foot can move thereby changing their balance point. I find it difficult enough fitting my own skates and it's even hard when you're trying to fit a child whose feedback may be limited and not very specific or accurate.