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World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.

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April 22, 2009

Should I Buy Low-Cut Racing Skates?

QHi, Bill: I'm 46 years old and have been infected with the skating virus just in time for my midlife crisis! I skate like a fool nearly every day on K2 rec skates (2x100 + 2x90mm setup). I have finished my first two marathons: in Koblenz (1:42 h) and in Köln (2:12 h). For this season, I would like to move to faster skates. But I'm not sure what to do: force my feet to adapt immediately to low-cuff boots, like the Bont Jets, or move to a half-cuff boot like the Bont Semi Race. What's your recommendation? - Cheers, Zoltan ... Mettlach, Germany

Hi, Zoltan: You're not having a midlife crisis — you've just seen the light and are discovering our wonderfull sport! It's great that you have finished your first two marathons. Apparently, in your quest for faster speeds, you are now in the grips of vini, vidi, vici ("I came, I saw, I conquered"). You're lucky to be in Germany. It's a bit like Switzerland with its user-friendly skateways, particularly in Juterborg and Flaming.

Low-cut boots make it possible to sit in the low position needed for speed skating. It's difficult to do this with high-cut boots, which is one thing that limits the technique and speed of recreational skaters.

Some skaters have competed in half-cuff boots (like the Semi Race). But I would guess that if you get a half-cuff (or marathon) boot, you will be looking for something faster after six months. So, you might as well go whole hog and get the low-cut racers.

As far as wheels go, if you have a large foot (around 42 EU/9 US or bigger), you will probably do best with a short 4x110mm frame (plate). But don't put on the 110mm wheels right away; instead, slap 100mm wheels on your frame until you've gotten used to your low-cut boots and had some time to polish your technique. You'll find that the bigger wheels enable you to cut two or three minutes off your marathon time.

Go for it and best of luck.

Cheers, Bill

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