Calgary Speed Skating Association


New to Speed Skating?

Having the proper equipment is an integral part of the sport of speed skating.  Purchasing equipment can be an arduous task if you are new to the sport.  Below is information to help you understand the equipment required.

Equipment can be purchased through the Oval Skate Shop at the University of Calgary Olympic Oval, please contact the Skate Shop at ovalshop@ucalgary.ca or at (403) 220-7917.  Another great resource is www.ilovespeedskating.com.  Also, Many of our members sell their gently used equipment through our Classified link on the CSSA website.

Oval Skate Shop Hours:

Monday – Friday
8:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Safety Equipment


Why: To prevent major and minor head trauma and traumatic brain injury due to impacts with ice, boots, blades, bodies, boards and crash pads.

A helmet must be worn for all on-ice activities. It must be securely fastened under the chin at all times. A skate blade should not be able to penetrate any ventilation holes in the helmet.

For Learn to Speed Skate and Introduction to Speed Skating Programs, as well as training for Active Start and FUNdamentals aged participants, helmets must be ASTM F 1849 certified or CSA approved (hockey, snowboard/ski skateboarding helmets only). For all other competitions and activities, helmets must be ASTM F 1849 certified.


Why: To prevent cuts and puncture wounds on the hands from blades.

Full cut-resistant material gloves with a minimum 1 cuff must be worn at all times while skating. All the surfaces of the glove must be made from cut-resistance material, including the palms, sides, tops, fingers and cuffs. Appropriate cut-resistant materials include;

  • Medium to thick leather
  • Kevlar mixed (minimum 12%) Nylon and/or spandex or similar material. Kevlar lined leather gloves provide the most protection.
  • Dyneema mixed Nylon and/or spandex or similar materials
  • Other cut-resistant material approved by the Canadian Speed Skating Association

Example of gloves that are not cut-resistant (enough) are;

  • wool gloves
  • cotton gloves
  • nylon only gloves
  • baseball batting gloves
  • golf gloves
  • thin leather ski/winter gloves
  • non-leather ski/winter gloves
  • non-leather soccer goalie gloves

Neck ProtectionNeck Protection

Why: To prevent cut and puncture wounds to the neck area, especially in the areas of the major arteries.

All skaters are required to wear bib-type neck protection. It must be made of Kevlar, Dyneema, or ballistic nylon. Protection may be integrated into the design of a skater’s skin suit or worn tucked into a skater’s skin suit. If separate neck protection is worn it must fastened securely.


Eye ProtectionEye Protection

Why: To prevent eye injuries resulting from ice chips or a collision with a blade or other object.

Shatter-resistant protective sport glasses or a complete visor are required for all skaters. Glasses must be held securely in place by a strap. Hockey helmets with cages are NOT an acceptable alternative.

Full Cover ProtectionFull-Cover Protection

Why: To prevent cut and puncture wounds on any other part of the body not already covered by other protective equipment.

No skin below the mid-line of the neck can be visible (bare).

Skaters aged 11+ (L2T) participating in events sanctioned SSC Championships and/or as Selection/International competitions must wear cut resistant clothing meeting or exceeding the minimum standards established by the ISU.

Several times a year, the Club will place an order for CSSA branded skin suites. Communication will be sent out as to when samples are available to try on, and to place an order. It typically takes 8 – 10 weeks for our supplier to fulfill an order.









Ankle ProtectionAnkle Protection

Why: To prevent cut and puncture wounds of the Achilles tendon from blades during the thrust phase of the stride.

No skin can be visible between the skater’s boot and skin suit. Puncture resistant anklet made of Kevlar or Dyneema must be worn on both legs, covering the legs from the tops of the boots to 10 cm above the tops of the boots.




Knee ProtectionKnee Protection

Why: To prevent puncture and blunt force impact wounds to the knees.

Full frontal knee coverage providing complete coverage of the patella. Made of puncture resistant (e.g. Kevlar or Dyneema) and impact absorbing (e.g. high density foam) material. Protection may be worn over a skater’s skin suit or it can be integrated in the suit.




Shin ProtectionShin Protection

Why: To prevent cut and puncture wounds along the shin from blades, as well as some measure of blunt impact protection from hitting hard objects/bodies.

Skaters must wear hard plastic or built-in cut and puncture resistant material with some impact energy absorption. Full frontal shin coverage is from within 2.5 cm of the top of the boot to within 2.5 cm of the bottom of the knee protection.   Protection may be worn over/under a skater’s skin suit or it can be integrated in the suit.

Skate BladesSkate Blades

Why: To reduce the puncture making capacity of the blades.

The rear and front tips of all skate blades shall be rounded to a minimum radius of 1cm. Skate blades need to be sharp and well maintained. All skates rented from the Club will have the skate blades rounded appropriately.


Other Equipment

Ankle BootiesAnkle Booties

Why: to help prevent blisters.

Form fitting pull-on anti-blister booties that allow your foot to grip your footwear better, yet offer protection from rubbing and blistering. Highly recommended.


Skate GuardsSkate Guards

Why: To prevent damaging the blades.

Skate guards must always be worn when not on the ice. Put your guards on before you step off of the ice and do not walk on the toes of the skates, walk on the flat of the blades.


Soft GuardsSoft Guards

Why: To prevent blades from rusting.

Use blade protectors while transporting your skates and storing skates.


Why: To help keep the blades sharp.

Speed skates are sharpened by hand, using a jig and stone. Instruction sessions on how to sharpen your skates are held during the skating season. If you rent club skates you are responsible for sharpening them throughout the season. The club has jigs available for club members to use.


Equipment Maintenance

The Skate

It is important to properly maintain your skate during the season. Regular maintenance helps keep the skater performing optimally and ensures a longer life for the skate.

Tips for skate maintenance:

  • Clean skates after each use by wiping with dry cloth and wrapping in Terry Cloth type of material to protect the blade edges. Hard skate guards are to be used when you are walking from the dressing room to the ice surface and return to the dressing room. The skate blades should be covered with the skate booty or similar type of material for 24 hours until the moisture is drawn out of the skate blade. DO NOT STORE THE SKATES IN THE GAURDS. If you keep the plastic skate guards on the blades while they are damp, rust will form and damage the skate blade edges.
  • Keep skates sharp. Get your skates sharpened regularly (at least once/month). This can be done by using club equipment or at the Oval Skate Shop. Ask your coach how to get this done.
  • If you find that the skates are very uncomfortable then consider heat molding the boots to your feet.
  • Checking skate hardware: Before you put on your skates check that all nuts and bolts are tight and that there are no visible signs of deterioration.
  • Short track blades are intended for use only on indoor short tracks at practice and sanctioned competitions. Any damage to club blades when used on outdoor natural ice will be the financial responsibility of the skater.
  • Generally, look after your skates. These skates are expensive.

The Boot

Of particular importance when choosing equipment for speed skating is the fit of the equipment. Speed skating is about feeling the ice, therefore it is important the all equipment fits properly. Avoid boots or blades to grow into as this will negatively influence the capacity of the participant to acquire skills. It is also important to properly dry out all equipment between each practice and wash it regularly. CSSA offer skate rentals for beginning skaters, while safety equipment is generally the responsibility of the participant.

When selecting a speed skating boot be sure:

  • The boot provides support for the foot and the ankle.
  • The boot allows the skater to move their knee as far forward as possible.
  • The boot needs to be tight but comfortable without cutting off the skaters’ circulation. If the boot does not fit snugly, or is not properly tied, the skater’s foot will slide around inside the boot and decrease control of the blades.
  • Purchase boots that can be heat moulded. This will improve the fit and increase comfort for the participant.
  • To dry the leather out slowly if the boots become wet. Drying the boot too quickly will damage the leather.
  • To keep spare laces available as they can break at any time. Laces should be kept relatively short so as to avoid tripping over them.

The Blades

Speed Skates Hockey SkatesSpeed skating blades are quite different than those used for hockey and figure skating, not only are they longer, but they are also flat ground, see illustration. This allows the skater to glide more effectively, but also requires that speed skating blades be sharpened by hand. If speed skates are sharpened using a machine designed for hockey or figure skates it will permanently damage the blades. CSSA holds a skate sharpening clinic several times a year. Please drop into the office to find out more information.

The set-up of the blades for a speed skater is just as important as the boot. For developing skaters maintaining sharp blades with a proper rocker and bend will have the most significant influence on a blade’s performance, far more than the actual quality of the blade. Improper blade set up often limits a participant’s ability to perform a skill, making the sport less enjoyable. Improper blade set-up is the equivalent of not properly inflating the tires on a bicycle.

To properly maintain blades:

  • Be sure to fully dry the blades after each use to prevent rust from developing.
  • Store the blades in a cotton skate cover, between practices, not in plastic skate guards where condensation will accumulate on the blades and cause them to rust.
  • Use a hard-plastic skate guard when going on and off the ice.
  • Sharpen the blades regularly. It is best to sharpen quickly on a regular basis rather than an occasional long sharpening job.
  • Check the edge of the blade with a finger nail to check for sharpness and burr. If you are able to scrape some of your nail, the blade does not need to be sharpened. When checking for burr, you want to be able to scrape your fingernail upwards on the side of the blade without catching it on a piece metal.
  • Have the rocker and bend on skates checked at least twice (beginning and mid-season) per season by a club coach or equipment person.

Skin Suit

Speedskaters wear tight fitting suits called Skins to reduce air resistance and provide protective padding. These are available for rental from the uniform chair.

Putting on your Skin

Begin by holding each leg of the suit near the bottom of the leg and work each foot, one at a time, into the suit. We realize it’s much easier to hold the suit by the waist and just jump in with both feet, but we don’t advise it. Also don’t rely on the zipper-pull alone to close up suit. Use one hand to close the suit above the zipper-pull so it closes easier when you pull the zipper up. In the long run, this will prevent stretching of zipper teeth and prolong life of zipper. Hold the bottom of the zipper when you remove the skinsuit to prevent stretching. TAKE YOUR TIME.

Washing instructions

Keeping your skinsuits looking good and functioning at their best requires specific care and maintenance. Washing is the first area of concern. Do it correctly and it will preserve the garment. More frequent washing is better than less frequent. Body sweat contains acids, oils, and bacteria and can be quite corrosive and will eventually attack the fabric. Hand washing in lukewarm water with a mild soap or detergent is about the safest washing method for most skinsuits. Five minutes in the sink will do the trick. DO NOT wring the garment. You can roll the garment in large towel and squeeze roll allowing as much moisture to transfer onto towel. Dry time should be reduced to half the time. If machine washing is preferred, use gentle cycle with mild soap. The garment should be zipped up and turned inside out, prior to being placed into the washer. The spin cycle of the machine should be enough to rid excess water and then hang in the shower to dry. The life of most skinsuits will be prolonged if you avoid hot/warm machine drying, unless your dryer has a no-heat setting. Too much heat over time will breakdown the stretching fibers.

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