As a former competitve skater every year at Christmas I get asked by friends and family what type of skates should they buy for their kids or girlfriends. While my taste and needs in skates are far more demanding than the occasional skater, I thought I'd jot down a couple rules in buying proper skates still apply and I thought I'd share them with everyone and give you a link to some great prices.
Buy skates from skate shops with fitters. Do not waste your money by buying inferior quality skates at discount stores or sporting good stores. The price savings isn't worth all the pain and suffering of putting a kid into misfit skates. Skate shops will work with you to insure proper fit and sizing-- They are worth the couple extra bucks.
Do not ever buy boots with "room to grow into." Boots that are too large or poorly made, do not support the foot and ankle properly and can cause serious foot problems down the road. Buy what fits with just a "scooch" of room to wiggle the toes.
You can buy via mail order from good skate shops, if you send them tracing. Here's a tip from me the skating pro: Have the skater stand on a piece of 8.5 x 11" piece of typing paper for each foot with their weight centered over both feet. have the skater wear a light weight sock. Do not let them look down. (It changes the weight distribution.) Hold a pencil vertical and trace the outline of the foot. Mark each tracing for the right or left foot, and put their name, address, phone number, age, date, level of skating and shoe size on each page. You can take these tracing to a skate shop or fax them for mail order fittings. 90% of the time this method works well for most skaters including pros like me. You can also con a kid into thinking you're looking at how much their feet have grown so they are clueless about what you're up to.
And now a word from your author: While Doc, Dave, David W, David Sifry and several dozen other people I wanted to see were up on Palo Alto wooping it up at Kevin's Supernova conference, I have been stuck at home. It wasn't my choice. I was ordered to stay home. It appears I have picked up a painful major eye infection a week ago which has made it impossible for me to focus, maintain my balance or use my computer. At the moment I've the only way I can read my computer screen is to sneek wearing an eye patch for very short periods. I resemble a racoon with a pair of black eyes. (Not the fashion statement I wanted to make, that's for sure!)
As to how I got this little bug, we are uncertain. But the doctors are very concerned we get it under control or I could lose some of my vision. At this point the drugs seem to be working, but I'm not out of the woods yet. So, if I'm not writing online for the next few days you know what's going on.