Sunflower Skates

Tracking my goals and progress as an adult figure skater

Review: A trip to Al's Skate Shop Blackpool

(Well, two trips to be precise, but that doesn't make a very catchy title!)

The past two weekends I have had the absolute pleasure of visiting Al's Skate Shop in Blackpool whilst on the hunt for a new pair of skating boots.

I first noticed that there was a problem with my current boots (Edea Chorus) after returning from the long lockdown break. Nearly all my Ice Dance skills were gone, and I simply could not hold an outside edge without almost immediately falling onto an inside. It was incredibly frustrating, especially as Anthony was trying to teach me a proper spin entry. He'd always tell me to "push down on my little toe". The problem was, I couldn't even feel my little toe.

Another issue was that I could feel my heel slopping around and lifting like mad inside the boot. I felt like I needed to bang down the sides of the boot before I attempted and edge, to try and shove it into place.

Luckily, I knew exactly who to go to for advice. I sent Al's Skate Shop a Facebook message with the problems I was having, alongside my best attempt at taking measurements and some details about me. I arranged to visit them whilst I was in Blackpool for my birthday so I could be properly measured and try on some different brands and styles of boots.

My First Visit

On my visit visit I was met by Pete, who took the insoles out of my own skates and had me put my foot on them. He showed me how Edeas are so completely wrong for my foot shape that my last two toes were being forced into and underneath the side of my foot, and this was what was causing the numbness and the inability to hold an outside edge. It was surreal, the insoles only had 3 toe prints on it, like a sloth. Why had I been wearing boots designed for sloths for nearly a year?!

He then measured my feet. It turns out that both my feet are bang on a perfect 9 (a UK size 7, most skate sizing charts are American or European) They were exactly the same size. Now this was news to me, as I've always been told I have one foot slightly bigger than the other (although the last time I was measured was at Clark's when I was10), and I have been buying size 7.5 and 8 shoes for years. So not only were my Edeas the wrong shape for me, they were also too short, and my toes had been forced into the toebox of the skates where there should have been space for movement.

I then tried on a few different boots. Because I'm an idiot and took my measurements wrong when I messaged them, they had ordered in a size smaller than I needed in most of the boots I was meant to try on. Instead, I tried on a few models down of each boot to check the length, width and shape and find out what was most comfortable for me.

I tried out both Jackson Elle and Premiere boots in different sizes and widths, but there was too much space down the sides of my feet in both (although the room at the toes and closeness at the heel felt lovely!) They were simply too wide and flat for me.

I then tried on Risport RF3 Pros in a 265 and I was nervous because they didn't feel right at all. I started getting a bit stressed out as I simply didn't know how a boot should fit, having been in the wrong ones for such a long time. I kept swapping between each boot I had tried on, getting more and more confused about what would be best for me.

Instead, Pete grabbed a pair of Risport Electra Lights for me to try on in a 270 C and they felt so beautifully comfortable that I knew that size was going to be perfect in whichever boot he ordered in for me (as I still wasn't sure what was going to be best!)

I was worried that going up a size would mean my current blades would no longer fit, and I really didn't want to be shelling out for new ones when these were fine. As luck would have it, they were able to fit. We arranged for me to come back the next weekend to have the final boots tried on, heat moulded and have my blades switched over.

My Second Visit

My second visit was the most exciting day ever, my new boots had arrived! When I got there I discovered that they were indeed the RF3 Pros (I wasn't sure whether they would be the RF3 or the Royal Pros) 

I tried them on and they were just so perfect that I couldn't believe it. Finally boots that weren't completely disabling my toes! I dread to think how much painful it could have become had I have stayed in them for any length of time.

My boots were then heat moulded to custom fit them to my feet by Bobby. This involved popping the boots in a little oven to soften the leather, then putting my feet in them and lacing up tight (I won't lie I was disappointed to see that my laces were the white ones and not the creamy-pink of the Electra Lights!) I then sat there with these gorgeous, snuggly-warm boots on my feet for around 10-15 minutes until they cooled down and the leather firmed to my shape. I had a good chat with Bobby about how the heat moulding would really speed up and break-in time as he could tell I was nervous about that!

After the heat moulding, I saw Pete again and he sharpened and removed my blades from my Chorus before fitting them to the RF3s. I was absolutely brimming over with excitement by this point! 

Despite the fact that my boots had been heat moulded, blades removed, sharpened and placed, I was not charged anything on my second visit. I was fully prepared to pay for the wonderful services I had received, but Pete explained that as I had bought the boots from them, it was all complementary.

And I left with a new pair of skates!!!! Hooray!

Final Thoughts

I am SO impressed with the service from Al's Skate Shop. I felt thoroughly looked after the entire time I was there, and I knew that I was in safe hands with them. I'm so impressed at the level of knowledge and attention to detail that went into finding the right boots for me. 

I will definitely be returning there when (or if!) I need a new pair.

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