Last month, a product designer from Ontario contacted me to see if I’d like to review a new kind of skate guard called kootsu(R), developed specifically for figure skates. It’s not often that I get a chance to test drive a new product so I accepted.
Before I get into my review, here’s some back story from the designer and skating parent, Aki Hirano, about how kootsu skate guards came to be:
When my daughter’s lesson was over, I greeted her at the side of the rink and proceeded to install the 1-piece skateguard on her skates since she could not install it herself. We walked to the benches where we gathered her gear, and removed her skates and exchanged them for her shoes. As we were walking to the exit of the building on the smooth polished floor, I saw another child running towards us with her 1-piece skateguards installed on her skates. I remember thinking at the time “I hope she doesn’t slip”, and at the same time her mother yelled “Don’t run – walk or you will slip!” The little girl did in fact slip, but was quickly caught by her mother before any injuries occurred. As we exited the building, I then noticed that some of the skaters wore their skateguards home, walking in them like they were shoes. It was at that moment it came to me. Why can’t a skateguard be more like a shoe?
And they really are like shoes. The wide, treaded sole is much sturdier than a typical guard, as demonstrated by my skates standing up on their own in the photo below. The grip is stable and it feels more like you’re wearing running shoes than guards. I can see the guard coming in especially handy while doing off-ice program walk-throughs moments before stepping on the ice at competition.
My skates in kootsu guards.
When I pulled the guards out at skating practice this morning, they were the talk of the dressing room. They’re distinctive–not attractive but strangely compelling, like a Slanket, or those running shoes with little pockets for each toe. Even before I tried them out, my skating buddies were asking where they could get a pair, which is here by the way.
My one grumble was the assembly process. The instructions weren’t clear and required a hacksaw, which this apartment dweller didn’t have. Once you’re past the installation though, there’s lots to like about kootsu.
I have a pair of kootsu skate guards to give away to a Boot and Blade reader. Send me your favourite story about a skate guard incident (I know we all have one), either as a comment or by emailing me here, and I’ll send the writer of the most entertaining story a pair of kootsu guards.