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Skate Sharpening and the Importance of a Good One!

The radius of hollow (ROH) is the technical term to describe the depth of the hollow between the inside and outside edges of the blade.  When skates are sharpened steel is removed from the centre of the blade.  The ROH determines the sharpness of the blade.  A blade with a small ROH has a deep hollow that gives you more grip but less glide.  This may help with sharper turns and quicker starts.  A blade with a large ROH gives you a shallow hollow, less depth between the edges, less friction, and more glide.  This helps with speed and efficiency.

In choosing ROH you want a balance between glide and maneuverability.  It is personal preference – dependant on your skating ability, how much pressure you can apply to your edges, your playing style, your size, and the ice conditions.

I recommend a 5/8 inch sharpening for most of my younger skatersin the camps because it really helps them to feel their stopping edges better when learning stops both ways and with both edges.  In my experience many beginner skaters have too sharp of blades. (The regular hockey sharpening is ½ inch at most skate shops so you will need to specify the type of sharpening that you want).

Many high level players are now recognizing and appreciating the value of glide for speed and efficiency and using a higher ROH, moving towards 5/8 inch, ¾ inch, and even a 1 inch sharpening now.

The following is quoted from Ron Chisholm’s Skate SharpeningRadius of Hollow article,

Some examples of ROH used by current and former NHL players are:

Wayne Gretzky – 1/2″ Sidney Crosby – 9/16″
Joe Sakic – 5/8″ Evgeni Malkin – 11/16″
Chris Pronger – 7/8″ Jordan Staal – 5/8″
Mark Messier – 1″ Sergei Gonchar – 1-1/4″
Paul Coffey – 1″ to 2″ Alex Ovechkin – 1/2″

Skate Sharpening radius of hollow -