- First because steel is immensely strong, hard and resistant to wear.
- Second, because it is a relatively low conductor of heat.
- And third, because it can be sharpened to a keen edge.
A skate blade has to resist tremendous pressure because it is hollow-ground, so that only the edges rest on the ice.
The smooth gliding movement associated with skating is made possible by thin film of water on the ice produced by heat friction as the blade strikes the surface. As it is relatively poor conductor of heat, the steel allows the heat to remain for a longer time at the edge of the blade, thus ensuring the necessary film of water.
There are specially designed blades for different kinds of ice-skating. The figure skater's blade is hollow ground and curved with saw-like teeth at the toe to enable the skater to get a better grip on the ice when carrying out certain movements.
The speed skater uses a thinner blade, about 16-17 inches long, sharpened, with a flat surface. This type of blade gives the racer a longer stroke.