Skaters’ tights are one of the most important and rather underrated accessories! They are not similar to the tights that we are used to of seeing and wearing, figure skating tights are made with special materials to fulfill the needs of skaters. These tights come in different types and they are worn by the skaters for various purposes. In this article, you will come across a complete guide to figure skating tights so, let’s get started.
Why Figure Skaters Wear Tights?
The fundamental thing to know is to why figure skaters wear tights? It keeps them warm in the cold weather. Wearing tights help figure skaters keep their leg nice and warm in the ice and it helps them avoid numbness. Thus, it helps in maintaining agility and swiftness in the footwork and leg movement.
Another reason for wearing tights in figure skating is that it helps to protect the skin in case of a fall on the ice. The figure skating tights are made in the way that it protects the skater from bruises and blisters that could be caused by friction in the ice or sudden impact due to a fall. It is a great accessory especially during the training session where skaters tend to learn new skills and execute different moves and jumps. This may cause several severe falls on the ice, skating tights absorb the pressure of a fall and smooths out the roughness of ice to avoid any injury.
Figure skaters wear tights to give them a nice and decorous appearance. It gives a smooth overall mien and provides a look of monotonous skin color. This helps in providing an exaggeratedly pretty overall demeanor that could lead to gaining better scores in the competition. Another reason, in the old school, of course, is that it gives a modest look as figure skating costumes are usually very low cut especially in the competition. Therefore, it is still inappropriate to reveal too much in athletic competition. Something dress designers must watch out for. According to rule 501 section 1 by ISU regarding clothing mentions;
“the clothing of the Competitors must be modest, dignified, and appropriate for athletic competition – not garish or theatrical in design. Clothing may, however, reflect the character of the music chosen. The clothing must not give the effect of excessive nudity inappropriate for the discipline.”
Skates can not be worn alone, there should be some protection for the shin otherwise the upper part of the skate would cause blisters and bruises. Socks are not the ideal piece of clothes to wear as they are a bit heavy and the seems are not soft either. Therefore, the best type of clothing is no doubt figure skating tights, they are light and the seams are quite soft.
Types Of Figure Skating Tights
There are generally four types of figure skating tights each serving a different purpose. These include footed, footless, over the boot, and stirrup tights.
Arguably the most popular figure skating tights are footed tights. In these tights, you do not need to wear a pair of socks inside the skates as they cover the foot completely and are similar to pantyhose. Another type of figure skating tights is footless. These are simply footed tights without the foot, so they cover the leg till the ankles leaving the choice to the skater of going either barefoot or with the pair of socks.
An Over the Boot Tights is another famous type that completely covers the boot and fastens through Velcro under the boot. Over the boot tights have some advantages as wearing these tights elongate skaters’ legs and make extension looks bigger and better. These type of tights protect the boot from scratches and nicks and also saves the skaters’ time of cleaning their boots. But over the boots tights come with a Velcro fastens that might get heavier and cause trouble to the skater. Stirrup tights are another type but they are almost obsolete and only seldom skaters wear these tights. These tights cover half of the boot and have Velcro fastens.
Material Used For Making Figure Skating Tights
Figure skating tights are flexible, soft, and at the same time strong to protect skaters’ skin from bruises. The material used in the tights must be specifically made to fulfill the requirements. There are several materials used in the manufacturing of tights, among them are spandex, lycra, and elastane that are a type of polyurethane. Polyurethane is a type of polymer which is a long-chain molecule. Polymers are very strong and invincible materials. Spandex or elastane is a synthetic fiber that is known for its extraordinary flexibility and exceptional elasticity. The materials do not only provide strength and flexibility but they also provide comfort and easiness.
Color And Texture of Skating Tights
Figure skating tights usually come in skin color and finding a color similar to your skin tone is a real victory. Tights that do not match with your skin tone give a bit of distraction during a performance. Some athletes do not prefer skin color tights and they prefer black colour tights.
Figure skating tights come in different textures. In competition, skaters prefer to have tights with a smooth texture and a matt finish. Smooth tights are thinner and give a sleek and elegant look. These smooth tights come in matt, semi sheen, and high shine finish. Matt finish tights blend with the skin and give a dull look. The other two finishes give a bit glamorous appearance but skaters now fancy the matt finish tights as these blend with skin and give a more natural look.
What Tights Should I Wear When Training On Ice
Thicker tights are available and mostly used by the skaters during training. These tights provide extra protection during impact on the ice and are a little warmer than the smooth ones. During training, skaters fall quite often as they practice new jumps and try difficult moves, therefore, they need more protection. Thicker tights do not look graceful as they make legs look little bulkier, so these are not used in the competition.
Where To Buy The Tights
Several major brands are selling figure skating accessories especially tights. Most of the brands have a variety of options available for costumers and can easily be bought from their stores. These tights are high quality and professionally made according to the athletic need of a skater. Some of the major brands, with shopping links are:
Mondor have the largest selection of colours.
Capezio reports say not as stretchy, so you may want to go a size up.
Bodywrappers recommended by dancers but on the thin side. You may need 2 layers.
Figure skating is an expensive sport and it can be difficult to afford the accessories. Professional skaters usually carry a couple of pairs of tights during competition and a couple during a training session. This could cost them a lot and if you are young in this sport, you might get into trouble buying these tights on a regular basis.
But Why Are Figure Skating Tights Expensive?
As already mentioned above, the material used is made up of a polymer called polyurethane which is commonly known as spandex or elastane. These materials are very expensive and steep. The manufacturing of spandex is not a piece of cake, it is a strenuous and daunting task. Due to the efforts put into the process of making these materials, advanced machinery, and continuous research in the field, it becomes one of the expensive materials in sportswear manufacturing.
How To Save Your Money
If you are training in costume and wear tights in practice sessions then its going to hurt your pocket big time. So why not cut down the cost a bit and reduce the figure skating expenses. One way of saving your money is to avoid buying over the boot tights. They are a bit more expensive than others and are worn out easily. And if you really want to save your money, go for dance tights instead of skating tights during the training session and even in the competition. They do not give you the same protection and safety but they are cheaper and give the same matt finish look.
Another way of saving your money is to don’t run after big names. Go for online shopping as pro skating shops and known brands have exorbitant prices for most of their products. You probably won’t get the best of the quality but it will get the job done. There is also a huge variety of used figure skating tights online that cost way cheaper than the new ones but it will be arduous to find the right size. Some people might hesitate to have used tights but when you want to save some extra bucks so why not.
Looking After and How To Wash Your Skating Tights
One thing some skaters do wrong is that they do not wash their tights regularly especially the ones that are worn during the training sessions. Tights get sweaty and it can be unhygienic to wear them again without washing.
Tights can be washed as other delicate fabrics but little more effort in washing the tights rigorously can increase the life of your tights. First, turn the tights inside out, use a mild detergent such as cashmere or wool detergent. The temperature of the water is a debate but in our opinion, use a little warmer water. If you are using a spinner, make sure it is at low or medium speed. The best way is anyhow to wash with hands gently. Hang the tights to dry and let them dry naturally and do not ever use the dryer or radiators as it can damage your tights.