VH Speed Skating - FAQ's


Occasionally my buckle falls off, what should I do?

It is very important to check for tightness on all of the nuts and bolts on your boots and blades every time you sharpen your skates, which should be at least weekly. If you follow this practice you will never loose a part, and everything will function properly.


Using the VH Ratchet Buckle










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What is blade rockwell and how does this number translate into skating performance?

The rockwell number is an indication of the hardness of the blade steel and is indicated by a number followed by rc (58rc). The higher the rockwell number the harder the steel, the better the glide, the longer the blade stays sharp, the smoother the sharpened edge, but the more brittle the steel. Generally, it is not recommended that blades use over 58 rockwell steel unless they are a bi-metal blade because they will be too vulnerable to cracking and chipping.

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What is the difference between a bi-metal blade and a regular blade?

A regular blade is composed of a uniform steel and therefore when a rockwell of over 58 is used the blade is too brittle and longevity can not be achieved. Bi-metal blades have a soft steel (40-50 rockwell) at the top (closest to the tube) welded to a harder steel (60-70 rockwell) at the bottom (closest to the ice). The advantage of the bi-metal design is that you get the added performance of the harder steel in contact with the ice, and the reduced brittleness of the softer steel above. The major disadvantage of the bi-metal blade is that it is very expensive to produce and therefore forces the price quite high.

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What is the difference between fiber glass, carbon fiber, and Kevlar?

Those materials are all what is considered composites because they acquire their rigidity from a composition of the woven fiber and a chemically hardened resin (usually epoxy in higher end products and polyester in lower end knock-off products). Carbon fiber and fiber glass have the most in-common properties, but carbon fiber is much stiffer for the same weight, and therefore is much more useful in products that require stiffness and lightweight.  Carbon fiber is also ten times the cost of fiber glass and truly an indicator of the overall quality of the product.  Kevlar is also very expensive like carbon fiber, but has different properties: Kevlar (chemical name aramid) is extremely strong in tension and bending but not near as stiff as carbon fiber. Therefore, Kevlar is best used in areas where persistent stress and bending will occur. Generally you do not see a lot of Kevlar in skate boots except over the mounting blocks where the most strain and stress occurs.

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Is it possible for the boot to actually be heat moldable in areas where a can see that carbon fiber is located?

Some manufacturers claim that their boot is ‘fully heat mold-able’, ‘provides a custom fit’, ‘the most moldable boot on the market’, ’has superior molding technology’, etc., when the boot clearly has carbon fiber extending way above the ankle bone. In actual fact, specifically designed thermoplastic is the only material that can be safely heat molded to the foot. Therefore, if you see carbon fiber that area is not anatomically heat moldable. The reason we specify anatomically heat moldable is because composite material can marginal reshape when heated thoroughly, but you can not achieve specific anatomical shaping by heating composites.

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Where are the most important areas of the boot for heat mold-ability?

The most important areas of the boot for heat mold-ability are the ankle bones, the heel lock and the medial longitudinal arch.  Therefore, when you are looking for a boot make sure that you can not see carbon fiber covering these areas because that is a clear indication that the area is not anatomically heat moldable.

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What is the difference between a custom boot and a non-custom boot?

Generally, a custom boot is made individually off of an exact mold of the customer’s foot. A non-custom, or more commonly referred to as stock boot, is fabricated off of a generic foot last which is designed to accommodate a large range of "normal" feet. Most manufacturers use a generic foot last for shoes, which does not allow for speed skating specific technical angles to be achieved. VH has individually crafted each size of foot last for the VH sizes. This taking into account 13+ years of skate making, as well as growth and development factors for proper skill development. For more information on the VH design please see the About Us section of the website. 

A good custom skate should be made by a reputable company that has been in business, making custom skates, for a minimum of 10 years. The reason being, it takes at least that long for the Master skate builder to perfect their specific foot mold preparation technique(the most important part of the fabrication process), which is a combination of science and boot making art. Stock skates can be produced in a general footwear factory and this is reflected in the much smaller retail price.

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How do I identify an inline boot from a speed skating (ice) boot?

Generally speaking an inline boot is designed to achieve inline skating angles, which are generally higher then those needed for speed skating (ice). Do to the needs of an inline boot, the foot last and boot cut line are designed around this. When determining the primary function of a skate boot you can look at the design of the boot to allow knee-over-toe angle.

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What is rocker?

Rocker refers to the radius of the blade, which is measured in meters. The radius can be consistent or variable, which can enhance a skaters gliding or turning ability. Short Track rockers are rounder then long track rockers.
The following example will assist in understanding what a rocker is. If you where to put a blade on an 8m radius circle it would follow the line of the circle.

faq 8.1

The majority of short track rockers are variable, which allows for an increase in gliding capacity and turning ability. Generally blades are flatter in the middle to allow for more glide and rounder on the ends to increase steering ability.

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What is off-set & how do I use it effectively?

Off-set refers to the placement of the blade on the boot. This setting can be done with the blade moved to the left or right from the centre setting.

faq 9.1

For alignment of blade a general rule of thumb is a ratio of 2:1 front to back. Developmental skaters should start with their blade as close to centre as possible. This will greatly assist with a direct line of power to the ice, as well as the ability to hold their ankles straight and transition from the inside to outside edges.
For more information please see the skill development section of the website.

faq 9.3

With the current structure of skating boots, off-set should be used to:

  • Achieve optimal feel of a skaters bend and rocker
  • To clear boot from rubbing on the corner. This should only be done if the skater has straight ankles while skating. If not, the skater needs to develop their ankle strength and stabilizers (see skill development section of the website)
  • To achieve individual anatomical alignment, which allows skaters to use both inside and outside edges (see "Using off-set to straighten up ankle alignment")

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Using off-set to straighten up ankle alignment

An individual approach should be taken with each skater as their can be subtle differences from skater to skater. If you notice that a skater is struggling to keep their ankles straight or get to an outer edge we recommend the following blade position change indicated with the green arrows.


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Using off-set for skaters that pronate.

All skaters are built differently and off-set can be used to effectively align the blade to allow for ease of edge control, reduced fatigue and increased efficiency, and improved timing of weight transfer. A common struggle among skaters is an individual that pronates. A skater that pronates should be properly fitted for correct running shoes, as well as orthodics (as needed) to reduce injury when walking or running.


Over the years several interventions have been experimented with, in skates, to compensate for a skater that pronates. The following illustrations show the torque on the ankle joint due to pronating, as well as the effect of the intervention. The direction of the arrow shows the direction of torque in the joint and the thinkness of the arrow illustrates the amount of torque on the joint.  As can be clearly seen in the diagram below off-setting the blade medial (diagram at the far right "Moving Off-Set") is the best solution for a skater with excessive ankle pronation.

faq 11.2

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What are the best practices for marking off-set?

The most accurate way to mark an off-set is to use a piece of masking tape on the bottom of the boot. Marks should be made using a pen on the tape in 1mm increments so that adjustments can be made and monitored accurately. As off-set may need to be moved throughout the season or blades removed for travel etc. You will need to find an alignment on the cups, which aligns with the marks on the tape. The illustration below shows an example marking location and alignment with the blade cups.

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When is it appropriate to bend skates?

The first thing to understand is that blades do not come straight from the factory. To straighten and/or bend blades requires bending adjustments. That being said all blades need to be reviewed and bent to achieve either a straight or bent blade.

The question is not when is it appropriate to bend blades, it is how much is appropriate for each skater. Generally speaking a bend is smaller for a developmental short track skater vs a high performance skater, which is due to the skaters weight, strength, and speed. For a long track skater similar concepts are applied but on a much smaller scale do to the much flatter rocker, and much wider radius turns.

The advantage of having a bend in a skate allows developmental skaters to turn more easily on the corners and properly align their body position. To take advantage of speed skating Long-Term Athlete Development windows of trainability skaters should have properly bent blades during their skill development window which is between the ages of 9-12 for boys and 8-11 for girls.

As this is a critical component of skill development for speed skating, VH has specifically developed a blade bending protocol for club blades based on the average weight, speed, and strength of a skater, which is then put into each pair of blades sent as part of a VH skate package. This bend allows for a starting point for success for clubs, while allowing for ease of modifications for the individual from their club coach.

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Can I use VH Stock Short Track boots for Long Track?

Due to the performance factors of the VH Short Track boot, many skaters across Canada are benefiting from the ability to easily attach a Maple Blizzard Klap to their VH boot. This becomes the most cost effective way for skaters to enjoy their long track experience. For skaters that train and compete on at a high performance level, we recommend that you use long track specific skates. Options include the VH stock long track boot (link to VH skate packages) or a VH custom long track.

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What do I use to maintain my sharpening stone?

There are several products that can be used to grind and maintain your sharpening stone. For the best results, as well as fastest method we recommend that you use the VH Silicon Carbide Grit. By using the VH Silicon Carbide Grit you will be able to maintain your sharpening stones to ensure consistent grinding to better maintain your rocker, while always having the best possible edge (90 degrees) for training and competition. For more information please see the stone maintenance section (link to page).

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What are the best practices for using contact cement

Contact cement is the best way to repair parts on your boot that have been damaged from kicking or abrasions. When using contact cement you should always ensure that you use it in a well ventilated area and handle it with rubber gloves. For the best results contact cement should be applied to both surfaces that you wish to bond together. Once you have applied contact cement to both surfaces you will need to allow time for it to become tacky before attaching them. To speed up the process you can use a heat gun or blow dryer to assist with the curing. The following illustration shows a repair to a scuff guard.

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What is the spacing of the blocks for VH boots?


VH Boot mounting spacing


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What is the spacing and length offered for blades?

The following illustration shows the blade length option for the VH boot.

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How do I determine the proper blade length for me?

VH has analyzed the current developmental system, skill development factors, and trends to establish a general recommendation for club skater on the VH boot. The following matrix shows our recommendations to get you started.


VH Boot Size29-3132-333435-3637-3839-4041-4243-44
Blade Length (inches) 12" 13" 14" 15.5" 15.5" 16" 16.5" 17"

Increasing in blade length from these recommendations requires the following considerations:

  • The skaters agility balance and coordination to use the additional length, without hindering cross-over mechanics
  • The skaters height and strength
  • The skaters ability to use a longer blade without a significant reduction in stride frequency

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How do I measure and maintain my blade tips and why?

The tips of the blades should be maintained for two primary reasons

1. To ensure that the skaters does not catch their blade when pivoting and or skating in ruts. As a blade is sharpened the tips of the blades become pointed, which can result in a tip to catch on the ice, which can result in a fall and potential injury. Skaters should regularly monitor this and grind of this sharp tip when it forms.

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2. The official rule is that blade tips should be rounded to the radius of a Canadian dime for safety. Failure to have blade tips rounded to these specifications can result in disqualification from races.

faq 20.2

Using a Canadian dime as a template you can outline the area that needs to be ground down. Grinding of the tips can be done using the edge of your sharpening stone, using a dremel tool, or bench grinder. Caution should be taken using a grinder so that the blade is not chipped.

faq 20.3

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Boot and blade hardware list for purchasing additional parts from nut & bolt supply stores

This list is designed to provide VH customers with the information to purchase replacement or spare parts for their VH equipment from any nut and bolt supply shop in your area. The following items will work with all VH model stock short track boots as illustrated below, along with the VH Titanium Blade (Ti1) and the VH Ti2 blade.

VH Hardware List

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Selecting a size VH Klap for a VH Long Track Boot

Size of Bridge Bridge Label Blade Length (inches)
37 36/37 15.5"
39 38/39 16"
41 40/41/42 16.5"
43 43/44/45 17"

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