Do unused figure skating boots degrade over time? | Golden Skate

Do unused figure skating boots degrade over time?

SmallAminal

On the Ice
Joined
Jul 26, 2016
With all the high-tech and fancy materials in boots nowadays, I was wondering how long they last after production before they start breaking down or degrading. If a new boot sits on the shelf at a retailer for say 2 years, will it be in any worse shape than one that just comes off the production line (design changes aside)? In other words, should you avoid boots that have sat around in the store for some time? Does it make a difference if they are leather or synthetic? Can you really hoard boots and expect that they will perform the way they should in a few years' time?
 

MCsAngel2

On the Ice
Joined
Apr 10, 2019
Country
Scotland
Yes, they degrade over time. Factors include materials, environment (temperature and humidity), and storage. I do know that foam rubber (like what's used on a lot of tongues) will either dry out and crumble, or turn to jelly. Leather, if not kept supple with leather polish, will eventually dry out and become brittle.

Shops don't keep very much inventory on hand, only common sizes and averages widths. Skates cost too much to make for shops to be able to afford to buy and keep them around indefinitely. Seems like most adults I know had to get measured and then wait to have the skates made.
 

kolyadafan2002

Fan of Kolyada
Final Flight
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Shops dont typically store much inventory.
Often they order skates in that skaters want to try on, and then the manufacturer sends them.

Synthetic materials degrade less than leather, but inevitably nothing lasts forever.
 

SmallAminal

On the Ice
Joined
Jul 26, 2016
My experience has been with our local retailer that they actually do carry quite a bit of inventory. Often, they sell "older" or "outdated" models on clearance, meaning they've been around for a while.
They have mentioned to me that they don't keep a lot of inventory in niche areas that don't have a lot of demand (e.g. younger boy skates) probably so that they don't get stuck holding a lot of expensive stuff that is targeted to a small number of people.

I guess it is safer to ask/check how old the boots are before purchasing, just in case they were stuck in a back corner of the store and have been around for a long time. All else equal, it sounds like you should treat skates like fresh produce - the one picked yesterday may be fine, but if you have the choice to get the one picked today, then take that one.
 

tstop4me

Final Flight
Joined
Oct 2, 2015
Yes, they degrade over time. Factors include materials, environment (temperature and humidity), and storage. I do know that foam rubber (like what's used on a lot of tongues) will either dry out and crumble, or turn to jelly. Leather, if not kept supple with leather polish, will eventually dry out and become brittle.
This has been my experience. Synthetic materials manufactured with plasticizers (such as the foam rubber on tongues, as you mentioned) are the most prone to degrade over time.

I have film cameras that I bought ~1970. Foam rubber was used for light traps and mirror dampers. The foam started to turn crumbly or turn to goop in the late 1980's, and I had to send them in for refurbishing. Meanwhile, I have cameras from my dad, vintage ~1930. Felt was used for the light traps; they're still fine.

Back to skating boots. If you're talking about ~2 yrs on the shelf, don't worry. I bought a pair of Jackson Elite Suedes (leather model) at the end of 2014, and they're still fine [I don't do jumps; so they have long service life for me]. The foam tongue liner on one boot collapsed after ~2 yrs, but I think that was from defective material, rather than aging (the foam on that boot looked and felt a bit different from the foam on the other boot; I first thought it was normal variation; but in retrospect, I think it was defective). Prior to that, I had a pair of leather Riedell Royals. I didn't have time to skate much when I was working full time and raising a kid. So I held onto that pair for ~14 yrs. I had the foam tongue liners replaced twice, I think. But the rest held up OK on aging, until I wore them out.

There are discontinued vintage new old stock boots carried online or squirreled away in the backrooms of pro shops. Those could have been sitting around for 10 yrs or more. Those you might want to consider carefully, in case you're hunting for bargains (or nostalgia).

Even then, there are surprises. When I purchased my Jacksons in 2014, I started to reminisce with the skate tech about the classic boots of yesteryear. In particular, how the Riedell Gold Star on display was so different from the Gold Star I had in the mid 70's. He smiled, ducked into the backroom ... and emerged with a '70s new old stock vintage Gold Star, just like I remembered. Surprisingly, the foam tongue liners were still OK; so you never know.

I have no experience with the new synthetic boots (both uppers as well as heel and sole), so I don't know how they do on aging. But again, I wouldn't be concerned with ~2 yrs on the shelf.
 

WednesdayMarch

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 24, 2019
Country
United-Kingdom
My last pair of SP-Teri Superteri Deluxe were worn for a couple of months and then mothballed (in a bag and soakers in the attic) for 18 years. I did wonder if they'd be okay when I got back on the ice but other than feeling a bit stiffer for the first couple of times of wearing, I couldn't find anything whatsoever wrong with them. I bought a new boots after a few months but only because the SP Teris were just that bit too small for comfort and I wanted coaching slippers. Not sure how I'd trust the synthetic materials used nowadays to age, though.
 

kolyadafan2002

Fan of Kolyada
Final Flight
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
My last pair of SP-Teri Superteri Deluxe were worn for a couple of months and then mothballed (in a bag and soakers in the attic) for 18 years. I did wonder if they'd be okay when I got back on the ice but other than feeling a bit stiffer for the first couple of times of wearing, I couldn't find anything whatsoever wrong with them. I bought a new boots after a few months but only because the SP Teris were just that bit too small for comfort and I wanted coaching slippers. Not sure how I'd trust the synthetic materials used nowadays to age, though.

Depends which materials tbh. You have to evaluate each boot manufacturer individually
 

tstop4me

Final Flight
Joined
Oct 2, 2015
Depends which materials tbh. You have to evaluate each boot manufacturer individually

Precisely. Which is why overly broad statements such as "synthetic materials degrade less than leather" should be avoided (there are both a wide range of synthetic materials and a wide range of leather materials; and leather is processed and treated with a wide range of chemicals). I guess we'll find out in another 15 - 20 yrs or so. :)
 
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