Ok, so this may be the last skating update for a while. I wore the yellow rubber upper/blue urethane lower cushions for a week, but by the end decided I didn’t really like it all that well, at least not for the big figures. Whereas the all urethane felt fairly stable on the large figures, but too stiff for the loops, the rubber/urethane combo felt better for creating the curvy loops, it was far too wobbly for the large figures, even with incredibly tight action. So I decided to try the all rubber yellow in the figure skates the other day. Wow. I mean wow. The all rubber make them feel a lot more like my old skates (in a good way) but like a crazy amazing version of my old skates. I guess you can take the girl off the Atlas but you can’t get a figure skater out of the rubber cushions?
After trying all of these combos I have come to the following conclusions:
(1) I feel that the Roll Line Ring and Novita/Dance plates are superior to the Atlas figure and dance plates I had previously in terms of design (more lightweight) and ability to create very deep edges. I still think the Atlas is a good plate, especially for skaters who are learning to skate because it really forces you to learn how to control your weight placement and how to get a good edge. However, I am finding that I am enjoying skating on the Roll Line plates a lot more, especially for some of the more advanced dances and loop skating.
(2) I like having the longer dance plates and shorter figure plates. When on the Atlas I wanted them to be as similar as possible (and there was only one size that actually fit my boots), but now I appreciative of having more specialized skates. The shorter sized figure plates allow me to have very precise weight placement which is important for doing the turns and loop figures. I am even finding that on the Roll Line plates I can feel even more specific weight placement than I could on the Atlas plates, although I am not quite used to it yet. Some turns (brackets) feel much easier and faster, whereas others (rockers) don’t feel quite smooth yet. Of course, it could also have something to do with the fact that I practiced brackets and three turns like crazy last year, whereas I haven’t touched the outside edged rockers or counters in a long time (like over five years….). In any case, I may have passed all of my figure tests, but there is always something that can be improved. As for the dance plates, the longer wheel base gives me more to push against and added stability, so I feel like I can go much faster while doing deeper edges (because the new skates curve so much easier). I am still getting used to the plate on my turns (and just in general… accidentally locked the wheels and did a faceplant the other day because I am still not totally used to the extra length), but I think that some of them are much easier than before and I am really hoping this will help me get through my remaining dance tests.
(3) I like the urethane cushions for dance (soft grey) and the rubber cushions for figures and loops (hard yellows). It has been described that urethane cushions have more “bounce back” whereas rubber cushions “take a set” more easily. Basically, what this means is that when the rubber gets compressed, it stays compressed longer and takes more time to return to the original position. The urethane has the opposite effect of returning to its original position much more quickly. In my experimentation I have found this to be the case for all of the cushion combos I have tried. I think these features of rubber and urethane are both good and bad. When you are skating figures you want a consistant curve so you can create that perfect circular edge. However, when you do turns and loops you need to be able to have much quicker changes in the edge, so some people prefere the urethane. I did like skating in the urethane for figures, although I think I like skating in the all rubber a lot more. I suppose it would depend on the skater and what they like and what they are used to using. I do, however, think that the rubber is vastly superior for the loop skating because while you do need to have more drastic changes in the depth of the edge, it is a gradual change. I found that using urethane (both on Atlas and on Roll Line, although the Roll Line urethane is a much better quality) has too much of that bounce back and almost pushes me off of the edge I am skating on. Since so much weight is focused on an specific part of the skate, the other truck that doesn’t have that weight wants to bounce back to that original flat position, which isn’t good. It makes the skate stop partway through the loop motion. The Roll Line plate has the ability to create superior curves, so it counteracted the bounciness of the urethane much better than the Atlas, but the issue was still there. I think skating loops on urethane requires the weight to be much more centered so that both trucks will curve enough to go around the loop. With the rubber the weight placement can be much more specific and drastic, which I think aids in getting a better quality flow around the loop itself. Since I am currently using the same skates for loops and figures, I like the rubber much better because I feel that the edge quality is much more consistent. Of course, the opposite it true for dance skating. In some of the dances it is important to be able to create fast changes of edge. In this case the bounce back of the urethane really helps because it aids in the quickness of the edge change rather than delaying it slightly like the rubber. I am not sure if the rubber or urethane would be better for free style skating. I know I have seen more and more skaters move to the urethane, because I think it would help with their jumps. However, I could see where rubber would be better for spinning, so I suppose it would depend on the skater and what they felt was more comfortable.
So yeah, that is pretty much how I feel after two full weeks on the skates. While that is not enough time to be totally comfortable on them, it is enough time to know that I really like them. Also, in the celebrity death match that is Atlas vs. Roll Line, Roll Line wins. The newer debate between rubber vs. urethane ends in a draw. Hopefully these skate posts haven’t been too boring, and they should be thinning out in the coming weeks as life at the rink returns to practice as normal, instead of a crazy adventure in new skating equipment.