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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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May 21, 2009

Can I (Should I) Buy Skates for my 5-Year-Olds?

QHello, Bill: We were planning to buy inline skates for our 5-year-old twin daughters, but we were told that skates are not manufactured in our daughters' size (size 8, children's). In addition, a sales associate told us to start our children with ice skates, rather than rollerblades, because their ankles are not fully developed. He said children should transition from ice skates to rollerblades, rather than the other way around. Please advise. Thanks, Savita.

Hi, Savita: My guess is that the store you visited did not have any size 8 children's inline skates, so the sales associate steered you toward ice skates in hopes of making a sale.

Everything he told you was wrong.

For starters, there are several companies, including Bont, one of the best, that make inline skates and boots in children's sizes. (Check out the Bont Jet.)

As far as whether children should start on ice or inline skates, it appears to me that skaters do better transitioning from inline to ice rather than the other way around. Consider the success of such inline-to-ice Olympic champions as Chad Hedrick, Derek Parra and Jen Rodriguez.

It seems to me that children would be more likely to damage their ankles on the thin edge of ice blades than the comparatively wide edge of wheels.

My daughter, Nicole, used both artistic (quads) and inline skates from a young age and never had an ankle problem of any kind until she crashed in Heerde a couple of weeks ago. And she has certainly done a lot of skating.

Cheers, Bill

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