When temperatures start retreating against the first winter ambush, and our favorite lakes freeze over, it is time for our winter hobbies to stretch awake. Nordic skating is one of these epic winter recreation activities, and it is a great way to explore the icy canvas. The sport involves gliding over frozen lakes and ponds using long, effortless strides using Nordic blades. It is also known as Scandinavian-style cross-country skating for its popularity in Nordic regions. In order to truly enjoy the winter aesthetic, people prefer skating on natural landscapes instead of indoor ice rinks, as there is no parallel to the vast openness of a frozen lake.
Nordic skates consist of cross-country ski boots that connect with special, removable steel blades – the Nordic blades. These are ergonomically designed to enhance your frosty excursion through maximum comfort and confidence in your glide. Skaters often pursue ice-skating trails that have been machine-groomed for winter sports. They stretch in crystal-clear perfection within different areas of the Scandinavian countries, Netherlands, Finland, Iceland, Canada, and the USA. Nordic blades offer the added support of elongated blades that attach to the aluminum platforms of the skating boots. These skates are equipped with features to connect ski bindings as well. With optimized cross-country touring, the whole experience is simply invigorating.
Features of a Nordic blade
Nordic blades are developed for compatibility with cross-country ski boots. This enables comfortable footwear while skating on ice. Ski bindings can be attached to the skates, and since they are designed to be lightweight, the overall ice skating and skiing feel more streamlined. There are various models for screw-on bindings as well.
A Nordic blade is not integrated into the skate; it is detachable and allows for better portability and storage. These blades can be mounted using their special bindings, which are often improvised between both hiking and cross-country boots. An ideal boot should provide ankle support and warmth to the skater through padded interiors. For this reason, skate skiing types of boots make an efficient choice for Nordic blades. Purpose-built Nordic skates have no rival for gliding on natural ice, and the removable blades make it easy to switch between icy patches and the road while traveling.
Ranging around 45-55 cm in length, Nordic blades have a long and narrow structure that cuts through rough ice for smooth gliding. They have pre-drilled screw holes for mounting ski bindings and are flat in shape to make the best out of the icy landscape. These winter sport ergonomics enable long-distance skating for prolonged recreation on long and thin blades, as the skaters can glide comfortably without feeling hindered. The blade tip is curved upwards to imitate a ski tip, allowing smooth and safe transitions between bumps and cracks.
Nordic skates work as ice skates as well as skis through durable, factory-sharpened blades. This creates a versatile sports context to explore some free-spirited winter recreation – all the more reason to escape your cozy living room and venture outside. The blade and ski attachments are DIY-friendly, and the skates and blades are often sold as stand-alone pieces. In this way, you can reuse your existing boots to double as Nordic skates with compatibility and affordability.
Nordic skates accessories and kits
Various brands offer Nordic blades and accessories – sometimes as convenient kits – so you can have a one-stop shopping experience. These make it easy to maintain your blades, use specific fixtures to click the blades in place, add the ski bindings, replace the broken parts, etc. A complete Nordic skate gear goes on to include hardware packs, protectors, and carry bags as well. Frequent skating requires the blades to be sharpened regularly so that they cut through the ice efficiently. Here are some essential parts, add-ons, and kits that promise an authentic and well-equipped Nordic experience on the ice.
Nordic skating and test poles are important tools for balancing and checking the ice to ensure safety. A responsible skater will make sure to use carry ice claws, ice spikes, and throw ropes in case of emergencies across the frozen terrain. Adjustable skate guards come in handy to protect the Nordic blades from wear and tear during walking. Skate wraps and blade holders enable organized storage and portable ease, which brings us to custom backpacks that hold everything in dedicated slots.
Helmets and knee pads form the Nordic safety 101, as do gloves and hooded jackets for gliding safely against the winter breeze. The gloves also help with comfortable grips on the skating poles for long distances, and insulated gloves are the best choice. Wearing polarized sunglasses gives better protection from wind and fog, allowing you to see clearly as you cut through the draught.
Blade sharpening kits
These kits are designed to provide effective Nordic blade sharpening. A clamp system aligns both the blades for convenient sharpening using an included wrench to tighten the bolts. Different kits are designed for blade compatibility. They generally include aluminum end rails, polishing stones, and deburring stones to help you hand-sharpen the blades before you hit the ice.
A Nordic hub for winter sports
Located in Newbury, New Hampshire, the Nordic Skater store is an all-in-one seasonal hub for sports enthusiasts. Selling sports gear for both summer and winter pursuits, the company’s vast catalog expands into the widest continental collection of outdoor recreation tools. Organized by a team of hardcore skaters and skiers, the store offers competitive prices for cross-country (X-country or XC) skis, ice skates, roller skis, etc.
Nordic Skater features affiliate brands such as Lundhags, Sporten, Isvidda, Zandstra Sport, Alpina, Rottefella, and Connelly. These brands are famous all over the world for their high-quality winter sports accessories and blades. Their clip-on blades follow a mutual goal in letting you leave your home wearing ski boots and clipping on the blades when you arrive on site. The store sells a variety of the two main types of Nordic skates: binding and buckle-on.
Nordic brand analysis
As discussed below, the Nordic Skater store’s 3 valuable brands for Nordic blades include Isvidda, Lundhags, and Zandstra Sport.
Isvidda blades have an economical appeal, and they are made in China. Their optimum steel hardness requires one sharpening per season. These form the “good” category of the store’s assortment.
Lundhags blades have better quality and steel hardness. They are made in Sweden and need to be sharpened every 2-3 seasons, forming the “better” category of Nordic blades in the store.
Zandstra blades are the “best”, elite level of blades throughout the catalogs. They are made in Holland and deliver a trailblazing experience on the ice. With a Rockwell hardness of 60, these blades reduce the sharpening requirements to once in 5-7 years. Zandstra skates are NIS-binding-friendly to support the slide-on form of skate binding; screw-down bindings are also available.
Nordic binding ice skates
The store has a line of Nordic ice skates products that include Nordic blades from Isvidda, Lundhags, and Zandstra Sport.
Isvidda Nordic Skates Bare is a popular model for cross-country touring on frozen landscapes. These clip-on blades give added convenience for leaving your home in boots and attaching the blades when you arrive at your destination. The elongated design enables speed skating and skiing by gliding smoothly, as the factory-sharpened blades support mountable XC bindings. You can attach your own bindings, and the store provides a list of compatible cross-country options. Isvidda bare blades feature a Rockwell hardness of 55. Free plastic skate guards are available in the same package, and you can choose these blades from a range of sizes according to your height.
Lundhags T-Skate Nordic Skate bare is a stand-alone piece that clips onto your skiing boots. These Swedish blades are made of hardened and tempered stainless steel, carrying a Rockwell hardness of 57. The blades are available in sizes of 40, 45, and 50 cm.
Moving to the high-end, elite Nordic blades, the Zandstra series steals the spotlight. Its Zandstra Delta Alu Nordic Skate has an aluminum profile and a special Delta Fit All mounting system. Instead of mounting holes, the blades have slots to mount ski bindings. Compatible bindings include NNN, Salomon, XC and BC bindings. The Zandstra NIS Nordic Skate Bare has been revamped to support various NIS-binding compatibility for simple DIY installations. The blades stand out in their premium Rockwell 60 durability and sharpness that deliver superior traction. The improved ergonomics and architecture allow these Nordic blades to last for around 5 years before they need re-sharpening. They are pre-drilled to facilitate slide-on as well as screw-on XC bindings, and the blade lengths include 40-48 cm sizes for small to extra-large blades. The Zandstra Tango Nordic Skate is a reinforced aluminum blade that pairs well with Rottefella, Salomon Cross, and Back Country bindings. It is quite lightweight and durable in its hardness of 60, and it ranges between 40-48 cm in length.
Nordic buckle-on skates
Nordic Skater’s buckle-on collection also presents products from Isvidda, Lundhags, and Zandstra brands. They allow you to simply buckle on your hiking, back-country, or skiing boots and enjoy the glacial freedom of your favorite destinations.
Isvidda Multiskate buckle-on Nordic Skate blades have ratcheting buckle bindings that are suitable for all winter footwear. They deliver better and more agile skating experiences and are available in lengths of 40, 45, 50, and 55 cm – based on skater height recommendations and skating proficiency.
Lundhags Fleet Nordic Skate blades are a reimagined design with improved stability, footwear compatibility, and more options for specific blade sizes and skater heights. The sizes include 42.5, 47.5, and 52.5 cm. Lundhags Multiskate buckle-on Nordic Skate blades also feature the buckle ratcheting system and have a curved tip that optimizes skating on uneven icy surfaces.
The store provides Nordic blade sharpening kits for DIY maintenance through affordable options that save you a trip to the repair shop.
Its Zandstra Nordic Home Sharpening Kit is designed for hand-sharpening the Nordic Skate and Multiskate model blades. It includes two end rails to attach the blades, and a double-sided polishing stone with a deburring stone accompany this resourceful Nordic tool.
The Ving Upp Nordic Skate Sharpening Kit is compatible with all brands and versions of Nordic Skate blades that have a standard width. It helps you readjust the rail setup using the included wrench for better blade positioning on the compact jig. The clever engineering allows bindings to remain intact as you sharpen the blades on this single-piece aluminum extrusion. There is better friction to stabilize all Nordic blade sizes. The kit includes a Zandstra Standard sharpening stone and a deburring stone – and at additional cost, even the Zandstra Foss Diamond Stone.
Nordic blade accessories
Apart from a variety of ice skating resources, Nordic Skater provides some practicable blade-specific accessories.
The Zandstra NIS Hardware packs include screws and fixtures for mounting bindings on the Zandstra NIS series of skates, making non-NIS bindings become compatible with NIS skates for quick transformations.
Zandstra Ice Blade Holders are plastic and Velcro straps to hold Nordic blades together for safe storage and portability.
Zandstra one-piece speed skate guards are plastic protectors that are available in free-size adaptability to suit all blades. These skate guard pairs are sold in blue, red, white, and black colors. They keep the blades well-protected against abrasion and scratches during storage, traveling, and transport stages. Zandstra Twin-Guards are spring-loaded protectors that cover the blade tip and tail. They are designed to be extra-wide to enable you to walk comfortably, and you can customize the sizes and colors.
Ballangrud Soakers are cloth-fabric stretch guards for keeping Nordic blades safe and dry, allowing moisture to escape. This makes them quite favorable in terms of blade longevity and maintenance, compared to plastic and rubber skate guards that cause rusted blades due to the trapped moisture.
Lundhags Nordic Skate Wrap is a Velcro strap with a broader width to enclose Nordic skate components. It has a carry handle for easy portability.
Binding options for Nordic blades
Nordic Skater has a whole spectrum of binding-specific products from brands such as Rottefella, and Salomon. These bindings are designed to be multi-purpose to fit various types of boots for added versatility. The upgraded versions and wider profiles focus on maximum stability across the frozen territories.
The NIS series
Nordic Integrated System (NIS) refers to a useful binding alternative via mounting plates. These eliminate the need of drilling the binding to your skis, as the NIS mounting plates and NIS bindings have slide-on usability.
Rossignol Turnmatic (IFP) was launched as the latest IFP binding plate design to facilitate a tool-free adjustment. This Turnamic binding features its unique step-in locking mechanism for the boot, operated by a lever. The new locking system is compatible with specific types of boots.
Manual and automatic hardware
Bindings from different brands are available as manual and automatic products. The manual bindings require manually locking and releasing your boots using the attached lever, whereas automatic bindings lock automatically when you step onto them and detach with a button.
Skate-a-thons are winter-special fundraising events organized by different communities and sponsors. These family-friendly ice-skating events combine winter recreation with collaborative efforts to give back to the community. There are creative Nordic contexts with fundraising objectives; skaters generally need to complete as many laps as possible within the given duration to raise money for charities. It is a great opportunity to use the platform for making donations and taking part in exhilarating winter sports with diverse groups of skaters and skiers.
These skate-a-thons are hosted at strategic locations and offer various Nordic skate rentals to welcome everyone to indulge in some real ice-breaker activities. There are community-inspired goals and training to help people warm up to safety measures on ice patches. By testing the ice and skating with like-minded enthusiasts, participants get a chance to learn more about Nordic gear upgrades, latest equipment, and trail familiarity. The fundraising adds healthy recreation and a competitive streak to drive important causes and research awareness projects.
On thin ice with the pandemic
Nordic ice skating has become a winter ritual that people love exploring. It takes you out into the humble serenity of open, icy landscapes. With trails that seem to stretch endlessly like the winter skyline, there is nothing better than the feeling of simply gliding away. Winter aesthetics and Nordic photography open a whole new world of inspiration for hobbyists to document their time on ice and capture some rare, decisive moments. Speaking of aesthetics, these visual heirlooms from nature are immediately rivaled by the soothing ASMR sounds of Nordic blades moving on the icy surface.
Compared to indoor ice sports, outdoor pursuits have seen a manageable response in curbing the coronavirus outbreak. There is perhaps lesser scope for borrowing rentals, so people can use their own equipment to avoid cross-contaminations. The winter sport of Nordic ice skating can easily accommodate the COVID precautions; social distancing is much more achievable on open ice rather than indoor ice rinks. There is a wildfire spread of the coronavirus, and controlled excursions during this time allow people to still chase the elusive silver lining and glide away for a while.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
– Robert Frost