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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 7, 2010

Should I Ditch My 100mm Wheels?

QHi, Bill: I recently returned to inline speed skating after about a decade off skates. I bought the Luigino Attitude skate package (12.8-inch Pilot frame and four 100mm wheels). But I'm having a hard time getting used to the 100mm wheels and the stiffer boot. I am 5 foot 1, my shoe size is 5, and I weigh 110 lbs. Would I be wasting my time switching to a shorter frame and 90mm wheels? Also, will molding my boots help with bruising around my ankles? Thanks! Kim from Tampa, FL

Hi, Kim from Tampa: Glad to make your acquaintance. You are virtually the same size as my daughter, Nicole. So I'll start out by telling you what has worked for her.

She won eleven medals at the World Championships, including two world titles, on Bont 3-point skates with an 11.92-inch frame, the shortest frame available for a 4x100mm setup. She loved this setup, which gave her great agility and plenty of speed ... until the 110mm wheels arrived.

Since you are a speed skater, I would suggest you forget about 90mm wheels. For adult speed skaters, they are simply not fast enough. I would only suggest 90mm wheels for newbies or for skaters whose main focus is safety.

Back in 2002, the biggest wheels at the World Championships were 84mm. But the next year, 100mm wheels were introduced in Venezuela. (Nicole was the first to race on 100s on the track.)

Then the 110s arrived and took over. These days all the top skaters, even in China, are on them. Nicole stayed on 100s as long as she could. But the superior roll of the 110s was giving her competitors an edge, so eventually she had to swtich.

Now she's on a setup with three 110s and one 100. She has also found success on the track with a 110-100-100-110-setup.

Hang in there with your 100s. You just need to spend more time on them to adjust.

As for your blisters, it's worth a try to remold your boots, especially if they are fully heat-moldable. But this doesn't always work. Sometimes the area around the ankle is very rigid and difficult to reshape. (You might ask your local boot expert for help.)

If remolding doesn't work, try some ankle bootie, like the one made by Ezeefit Sports. Good ankle booties can cure many sins. You could also make yourself a foam donut out of some neoprene or other protective material. Just shape it so the hole is on top of the bruised area.

Cheers, Bill

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