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Santos L Halper

Junior/Youth Skates - How Stiff is TOO Stiff?

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Hey everyone.  So, my 8 year old son is in desperate need of new skates.  Now that his club season is over (no state playoffs at the 8U level in California), I'm in the process of winnowing down the choices.  Before I get too far down this particular rabbit hole, I was just wondering what you guys thought about skate stiffness relative to age, height, and weight. 

My kid is currently in Bauer VaporX 900s that, even after repeated LHS bakes, waxed laces, unwaxed laces, new socks, and other tweaks to hopefully make them more comfortable, have never been quite right for him.  I suspect his foot shape is just incompatible with the Vapor line of skates, so I'm likely going to stay away from those and CCM JetSpeed...which means looking at Bauer Supreme and CCM Tacks.

(True/VH for a kid that's still growing just seems.......stupid.....)

Anyway.  Wow...at the upper end of the models, Bauer Supremes and CCM Tacks are STIFF.  Like REALLY stiff.  I compare them to my 2 year old TotalOnes and I'm shocked at how stiff they are.  By way of background, my kid is an extremely strong skater with good mechanics and he definitely needs a performance skate that will help him continue to develop...but he's also only 4'8" tall and maybe 65-68 lbs.  If I did go Super/Ultra Tacks or 1s/190s, how could that affect his skating?  Could he even flex a skate that's that stiff?  What are the tradeoffs if I go further down the line into something that's not quite as stiff - but still bake-able?

Any and all insight is appreciated!!!

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I believe top of the line skates are less stiff in Junior sizes than senior, but still really stiff even for kids. I would look into a lower end softer skate or if theres a consignment/trade in place you can find a solid pair of skates that some parent traded in after their son grew out of them.. I found a pair of APX2's for my wife for 150 bucks. That way they're still stiff but have been broken into a little bit which will be less time until he is comfortable in them and they're not thrashed down because most kids don't have enough time in them to really wreck them before their feet grew. 

Honestly if he's not comfortable, I wouldn't recommend top of the line skates because they'll be way too stiff. 8 year old kids don't have the leg strength or weight that make that much stiffness that necessary.

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There is no reason for a 7 year old to need Super Tacks or 1S. They will get no "performance" benefit from these expensive skates when compared to a mid level properly fitting Bauer of CCM skate. Since a kid that age has a rapidly growing foot, you'd be far better off buying a skate that is half the price and replacing it sooner as the feet grow.

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Hello!

Even if you were considering the top end junior skates I am not sure you would find your son's size. Most top end skates start at size 3 from what I recall.

Edited by Machine
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1 hour ago, Machine said:

Hello!

Even if you were considering the top end junior skates I am not sure you would find your son's size. Most top end skates start at size 3 from what I recall.

They have top end skates in youth sizes as well 

https://www.hockeymonkey.com/equipment/hockey-skates/ice-hockey-skates-youth.html

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2 hours ago, theinfamoust94 said:

You are right. I was assuming he was talking about junior sizes. From experience there is no difference in stiffness amongst the high end youth skates from mid range. My son had the supreme 160 and the 1S last year. Same stiffness. Main difference was better steel and nicer liner on the 1s. 

Edited by Machine
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My son wears bauer nexus mid line skates.  He is the same age and dimensions as your's.  He is one of, if not the strongest skater on his team.  I see no reason to jump up in skates for him. He is also figure skating and those things aren't stiff at all.  I personally would spend the extra doe on lessons or a camp.  I have found over the years great skaters are great skaters no matter what equipment they are using. Just My opinion.

 

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I want to ask. Why 8-years old can not skate in bottom of the line skates? Something like S140? Is there any advantage going to fancier skates? Would not it be safer to get them in skates that confirm to their developing feet vs making them have their fit conforming to skates?

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18 minutes ago, Kgbeast said:

I want to ask. Why 8-years old can not skate in bottom of the line skates? Something like S140? Is there any advantage going to fancier skates? Would not it be safer to get them in skates that confirm to their developing feet vs making them have their fit conforming to skates?

Only logistical reasoning I can think of is the stiffer the skates the more puck protection you get.

You could also argue that since stiffer skates are tougher to skate in that adapting to stiffer skates at a young age can force kids to have to strengthen their skating in order to get full performance which can turn them into better skaters? Maybe? Probably not, just a theory.

Maybe kids see Eichel wearing 1S' and won't settle for the lower end skates so they haze parents? Rich parents get the top of the line anyway? No idea behind it really. My son won't be getting top of the line until he's paying for them or at least to the point where his feet don't grow.

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I have read countless articles that advocate less stiff skates for beginners to intermediate skaters. At 8 years old I doubt most of our kids are YouTube film stars.  But I seem to be in the minority at my rink. As the rink has only ever seen two kids in the last 18 years even make d1, even though they field one of the two teir II teams in the state.  But I degress.  Reason being to gain ankle strength or something of the such.  Also I believe that I read(and have witnessed) more ankle injuries due to improper technique in stiffer skates.  And let's be honest at this level and any level most of us could get away with mid level skates.  

Edited by jmiro
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1 hour ago, jmiro said:

I have read countless articles that advocate less stiff skates for beginners to intermediate skaters. At 8 years old i doubt most of our kids are YouTube film stars.  But I seem to be in the minority at my rink. As the rink has only ever seen two kids in the last 18 years even make d1, even though the field one of the two teir II teams in the state.  But I degress.  Reason being to gain ankle strength of something of the such.  Also believe the i read(and have witnessed) more ankle injuries due to improper technique in stiffer skates.  And let's be honest at this level and any level most of us could get away with mid level skates.  

A lot of pros don’t even use skates as stiff as the top of the lines. When I worked in a hockey shop I saw a few NHLers dropping off their x7.0’s for a buzz (at the time one model down from the APX)

i shall add they weren’t playing in the NHL anymore, but were fairly recently on active rosters 

Edited by theinfamoust94
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Thanks for all of the responses, everyone.  

So...Saturday was the day.  After visiting a couple of LHSs and using the both major manufacturers' fit analyzer/"please stand here"/fancy computerized...things, Bauer told us that the Nexus line was likely going to be the best for my son's weirdly shaped foot.  The CCM fit station was undecided between the Tacks line and the Ribcore line.  After trying on the Nexus 9000, Nexus 8000, the Ultra Tacks, the Tacks 652, and the Ribcore 68K, he kept coming back to the Nexus 9000 and 8000.  Since the difference between them is negligible, and (in my mind, anyway) not worth $100.00, I elected to go with the Nexus 8000s.  Definitely not cheap, but not "top of the line" expensive either.  

We baked them in the store and somehow convinced my kid to sit still for 15 minutes while the polymers did their magic. Then, after a quick cross-grind, a trip home, some extended work with the 9/16" wheel on my Sparx, and some finger-crossing, we headed to the rink for a public session.

After 2 hours on the ice I honestly felt really guilty.  I finally got to see what my kid could do in a skate that actually FIT him.  He was deeper in his edges, more confident in his turns, and laughing the entire time.  Transitions, mohawks, single-foot edgework, everything...it was all a joy for him.  After doing an extended run of those ridiculous alternating single-footed inside-to-outside edge transitions that I won't even try anymore without an airbag, he came up to me an exclaimed, "DAD!!! I LOVE THESE SKATES!!!"

We'll see how his skills practice this afternoon goes, but I'm optimistic that we found something that will not only "work" for him...but will help him get better.

I know everyone's asking...'WHY was he in Vapors if Nexus fit his feet better?!?!??!"  Well, it was purely due to this (woefully uninformed) attitude that I used to share:

"He's 7.  It doesn't matter what kind of skates he has!"  Uh.  Wrong.  It does matter.  And yesterday was all the proof I need.

I got the Vapors essentially new from a friend that realized he bought the wrong size for his kid last year.  He didn't want to go to the hassle of trying to return them (there was some cosmetic damage), so I bought them from my buddy.  After baking and re-baking, waxed laces, unwaxed laces, Superfeet, and every athletic sock they make in his size, I've spent the majority of the last year telling my kid to "deal with" the discomfort of his Vapor X900s; because, "He's 7.  It doesn't matter what kind of skates he has."  Now that I've seen my kid in skates that actually fit, never again...

Oh, and finally, I'd just like to address this point that has been made in various forms:

On 2/24/2018 at 4:26 PM, Kgbeast said:

I want to ask. Why 8-years old can not skate in bottom of the line skates? Something like S140? Is there any advantage going to fancier skates? Would not it be safer to get them in skates that confirm to their developing feet vs making them have their fit conforming to skates?

You said it yourself, "get them in skates that conform to their developing feet vs making them have their [feet] conforming to skates".  That's EXACTLY why my kid can't skate in bottom of the line skates.  

To me, the main advantage to a mid to higher end skate is heat moldability.  My son has a wide forefoot, a somewhat deep, narrow heel, and average sized malleolae (ankle bones).  He needs a skate that can be baked, or the break-in process is a complete and utter disaster.  Believe me, we've tried it the other way and his heels never stay locked down into the bottom/back of the skate, no matter how tight it gets tied.  Blisters and crying aren't a good way to endear the sport to your kid.

Additionally, from a practicality standpoint, the Lightspeed Edge blade holders on the mid/high end Bauers mean that I can get some Tydan's steel for ice use and use the stock LS1 blades for artificial ice surfaces...all without having to break out my tools to change blades.  

Edited by Santos L Halper
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