While free skating technique has advanced dramatically over the years, the equipment used in skating today is basically the same as the equpment used in decades past. One exception to this is the relatively new concept of coplanar boots and blades. This new approach to equipment was developed through the cooperation of MK and several boot manufacturers (Harlick, Klingbeil, Riedell, and SP-Teri).
The lasts used to make traditional skating boots are derived from the lasts used to make walking boots 150 years ago. Designed to facilitate the gait of a walking person, the soles of walking boot curve up at the toe to provide toe-spring, and their heels are slanted. In addition, boot soles are also slightly curved in the lateral direction.
Traditional blades are manufactured with sole and heel plates shaped to conform to the contour of traditional boot soles and heels, with stanchions matched to boot heel height. Unfortunately, blades of only one size will form a perfect match with a given pair of boots, and then for only one position on the boots. Due to variations in the manufacture of boots and blades, and the range of blade positions needed by different skaters, this perfect mating of boot and blade rarely exists. Hence it is generally necessary to shim blades or to remove sole leather when mounting blades in the correct position for a given skater.
Coplanar boots and blades have flat sole and heel surfaces that lie on the same plane, allowing a perfect mounting regardless of blade placement on the boot. Boot heel height is set in proportion to the boot size, and blade stanchions have been adjusted to compensate for the change in boot design. Because the sole and heel plates are flat, coplanar blades can only be used on coplanar boots, and vice-versa. In addition. coplanar MK blades are manufactured with flat sides to facilitate accurate sharpening.
When examining coplanar blades you will notice that the rear stanchion has a unique form. This is purely cosmetic and was done so that the individuals responsible for developing coplanar equipment can identify it in photographs, video tapes, or from a distance, and thus keep track of their use.
The removal of toe-spring from coplanar boots is claimed to improve foot posture, and skaters who have tried them generally say that they are more comfortable to stand in, although the feeling is not unanimous. The primary benefit of the coplanar concept, however, is that it facilitates the accurate and precise placement of blades onto boots. Thus, with coplanar equipment the skater is less likely to experience the typical problems frequently associated with bad mountings. Further, to the extent that mounting errors can lead to sharpening errors, the user of coplanar equipment is less likely to receive poor sharpenings. Note, however, that the use of coplanar equipment does not guarantee that blades will be correctly mounted or sharpened. That still is ultimately determined by the skill of the person who does the job and the accuracy which with the equipment is manufactured.
The coplanar approach deals primarily with the boot-blade interface. Other aspects of boot design have not been changed. Also unchanged is the design of the rocker, hollow, and toe picks for coplanar blades; so that, for example, coplanar Phantom blades correctly mounted on coplanar boots, and traditional Phantom blades correctly mounted on traditional boots will perform identically. Finally, remember that to start using coplanar equipment the skater must purchase both a new pair of boots and a new pair of blades at the same time.
Return to Title Page