Skatebuys Skate Selection Guide

How to use this guide:

Below are our recommendations for skates appropriate to various levels of instruction and testing. We refer to the test levels of the Ice Skating Institiute (ISI) and the United Skate Figure Skating Association (USFSA). Where available, recommendations follow the advice of the manufacturers. Otherwise, the advice is based upon our observations of the products and experience of the customers who have bought the skates.

Skate models will typically bridge skill levels. Use your judgment when making a selection. You shouldn’t buy "too much" skate for your skill, but you should also leave yourself enough room so that as you improve your skills you aren’t held back by inappropriate equipment. Where a skate bridges three skill levels, the middle skill level is usually the "sweet spot" for a skate. Heavier or stronger skaters might want to move up to the next higher level boot, lighter or younger skaters might want to move down to the next lower level. This is especially true for young girls skating at high skill levels, but where their physical size and weight can’t justify a skate built for a senior lady. When in doubt consult your coach or instructor.

As you move up in skill, consider our blade upgrade options. An Intermediate or Novice free skater that only weighs 70 pounds might want a lighter-duty boot, with a very high-end blade. Conversely, a 200-pound Adult Bronze free skater might want a very stiff boot, but only need a mid-grade blade.

Please refer to footnotes at the bottom of the chart. Our picks for each level, for each brand, are noted with a *.

Skatebuys Skate Selection
Test or Instructional Level Typical Skill Level (1) Skate Recommendations
ISI Tot 1-4
ISI Pre-Alpha
USFSA Snowplow Sam 1-3
Basic steps, swizzles, gliding, stopping   American 514/524
*American 526
*Dominion 718
  Dominion 731
  Gam 20
  Gam 30
*Jackson Artiste
  Riedell 10/110
*  Riedell 12/112
*Riedell 17/117
  Riedell 21/121
*Risport Antea
ISI Alpha, Beta, Gamma
USFSA Basic 1-3
Stroking, basic edges, three turns, simple footwork such as Mohawks, front and back crossovers *American 526
*Dominion 718
  Dominion 731
  Gam 20
*Gam 30
  Gam 35
  Jackson Artiste
*Jackson Classique
  Riedell 21/121
*Riedell 28/280
  Riedell 101/220
  Riedell 30/300
*Risport Antea
  Risport Star
ISI Delta
USFSA Basic 4-5
Backward skating, consecutive edges, lunges, shoot the duck, bunny hops   Dominion 718(4)
*Dominion 731
  Gam 20
  Gam 30
  Gam 35
  Jackson Artiste
*Jackson Classique
  Jackson Freestyle
*Riedell 28/280
  Riedell 101/220
  Riedell 30/300
  Risport Antea
*Risport Star
  Risport Laser
USFSA Basic 6 Advanced stroking, crossovers, all edges, basic moves in the field *Dominion 731(2)
  Gam 30(4)
*Gam 35
  Gam 40
  Gam 50
  Jackson Classique
*Jackson Freestyle
*  Riedell 28/280
  Riedell 101/220
  Riedell 30/300
  Riedell 32/320
  Risport Star(2)
*Risport Laser(2)
ISI Freestyle 1&2
USFSA Freestyle 1&2
USFSA Adult Bronze Free Skate (5)
Simple jumps such as waltz jump, salchow, and toe loop, Basic spins such as two-foot and scratch, spirals, simple footwork   Dominion 731(2)
  Gam 35(4)
  Gam 40
*Gam 50
  Gam 65/70
  Jackson Classique
  Jackson Freestyle
  Riedell 28/280
*Riedell 30/300
  Riedell 32/320
  Risport Laser(2)
*Risport Cristallo
ISI Freestyle 3&4
USFSA Freestyle 3&4
USFSA Preliminary Free Skate
USFSA Adult Bronze Free Skate
USFSA Preliminary-Juvenile Precision
Singles through Lutz, Combination jumps, Axel, Some doubles such as toe loop and Salchow, Scratch, sit and Camel spins, more complex footwork, spiral sequence.   Gam 40
  Gam 50
  Gam 65/70
  Gam 95
*  Riedell 32/320
  Riedell 55/355
  Risport Laser(1)(4)
  Risport Cristallo(2)(3)
  Risport Diamant
ISI Freestyle 5
USFSA Freestyle 5
USFSA Juvenile Free Skate
USFSA Intermediate Free Skate
USFSA Novice Free Skate
USFSA Adult Silver Free Skate
USFSA Intermediate-Novice Precision
USFSA Junior, Senior, Adult Precision
USFSA Intermediate Pairs
USFSA Novice, Junior Pairs
All single jumps, all toe double jumps, combination doubles, lower level triples, flying camel   Gam 65/70
*Gam 95
*Gam 400
*Riedell 55/355
*Riedell 75/375
*Risport Cristallo(3)
  Risport Diamant
ISI Freestyle 6&7
USFSA Freestyle 6
USFSA Novice Free Skate
USFSA Junior Free Skate
USFSA Adult Gold Free Skate
USFSA Junior, Senior, Adult Precision
USFSA Novice Pairs
USFSA Senior/Gold Pairs
Doubles, triples, double axel, combination doubles/triples, flying spins, complex footwork   
  Gam 95
*Gam 400
  Gam 500
  Riedell 75/375
*Riedell 90/900
  Risport Cristallo(3)
*Risport Diamant
ISI Freestyle 8&9
USFSA Senior Free Skate
Adult Gold Free Skate
USFSA Senior/Gold Pairs
Triples, quads, combination triples, all spins, complex foot work   Gam 95
  Gam 400
*Gam 500
*Riedell 90/900
*Riedell 1500
*Risport Diamant(3)
ISI Freestyle 10
USFSA Senior Free Skate
USFSA Adult Gold Free Skate
USFSA Senior/Gold Pairs
Elite Skaters, All skills   Gam 400
*Gam 500
  Riedell 90/900
*Riedell 1500
*Risport Diamant(3)
(1) Skates appropriate for these skills – not necessarily matched with test or instruction level.
(2) Blade upgrade recommended
(3)"Super" boot upgrade and blade upgrade recommended
(4) Younger, lighter weight skaters only
(5) Riedell 30+, Risport Cristallo recommended for Adult Bronze
* Skatebuys Pick