I have new blades. My Aspires were going on a full two years old, and bad Skater that I am I did not keep track of sharpenings so I don't know how often that happened. But I knew I needed new blades, and soon, as my Aspires were getting dangerously old.
How did I know the Aspires were done?
There wasn't a lot of gray area left, which means there wasn't much left to grind down.
They weren't functioning as well as they had. After their last few sharpenings, the edge seemed to vanish almost immediately. Maybe it was all in my head, but I just didn't feel like they were on the ice as securely as they had been. Edge pulls got hard, crossrolls got hard, landings got slide-y, and on my last skate in them I was falling out of 3 turns.
It's likely I could have gotten another pair of the same blade and done just fine in them, but I felt the need to upgrade. I'm jumping a lot more than I used to, spinning is coming easier, and Coach loves toepicks. So, I felt an upgrade was in order.
I ordered the Ultima Legacy, the immediate upgrade from the Aspire, with the cross cut pick and 8' rocker I like. When I got the call they were in, I scheduled my appointment to get them on my boots, and then I was worse than Billy from "Where the Red Fern Grows" when he's waiting for his dogs. I begged out of work early to get them.
Side by side: the Aspires have a lightweight pick, the drag pick is not sharp and not that big. The pick on the Legacy means business from Point 1. It's big and sharp, and it's a little higher on the blade. Beyond that I did not see much physical difference.
Of course, once they are on the boot, you have to try them out. I didn't want to skate by myself in them on the first try, so I crashed the Beta/Gamma class on the way back from Skate Shop. A friendly coach gave me the advice to do some small jumpy things to "teach myself where the toepicks are," which addressed my biggest fear of a slightly bigger and sharper Drag pick. So I did a few 3-turn/taptoe/3-turn exercises, as well as edges to check the mounting. It all felt okay, but of course the Adult Classes are all taught in the tiny studio (useless) so it was hard to discern any real skating difference in them.
This morning I took them out for a real skate on the big ice.
These blades are fast. They are also secure. I asked for a deeper hollow than what I usually get, and I like it. No slipping sideways on crossrolls at all, and mohawks grab and hold. They are also quieter. I hear much fewer scratchy toepick noises on them. Maybe it's higher profile, or the fact that the Aspires were so worn down that the drag pick couldn't help but drag, but these blades are quiet. The bigger toepicks feel sturdier, I feel much more stable. I'm able to commit better to the step-turn-step-crossover manuever.
Overall, I'm thrilled. My long and needlessly difficult process of new skates is done, and now I know precisely what I like so I never have to go through the uncertainty or begging for help ever again. (SP Teri, 5 1/2 Split Width!) Everything worked out, in spite of the obstacles, and I'm grateful.
The new blades had to arrive in time to give me awhile to adjust before my test, and that happened perfectly. Next lesson we run through the MIF Test in the dress and new blades, and I'm pretty excited!