Does skating seem more complicated the more you know? Do people ask what boots you’re wearing? Do they follow up with what blades you’re using?
If you’re an avid skater like me, these are perfectly normal questions and you begin to take note of the type of boots and blades worn by skaters you admire. There are a lot of choices out there and you tend to go with what your coach and/or fellow skaters swear by. For me, I’ve skated in Harlick boots and John Wilson Pattern 99 blades for the last 10 years and have been generally happy with the quality and customer service. Reidell also makes great boots as does SP-Teri. I’ve also heard good things about Risport, Jackson and Klingbeil boots. (Note: Klingbeil only makes custom boots.) To determine which boot is right for you, try on several different pairs at your pro shop and ask fellow skaters what they skate in and why. You’d be surprised at how strong some opinions are!
Finally, I cannot overemphasize the importance of proper mounting and sharpening. This is where a great skate technician comes in. Again, the best resource for me has been word of mouth. I recently purchased new boots and had the blades mounted by Rich at the Pro Shop at Mennan Rink in New Jersey. Rich did an amazing job balancing the blades in terms of mounting them slightly to the outside (because I put more weight to the outside of my feet when I walk and skate) and using a felt wedge to enhance the balance on my left boot. You know when the blade placement is perfect because you're hitting your spins like never before, your turns are better - they feel better in fact, and you can hold edges with more ease. The downside of getting to this point is that there is a trial and error period where the mounting is not "right" and only time and patience will correct it.