Clack Skates

Raised in the cold winter climes of Canada, we skated very early in life. Every kid had skates and there were arenas, back yard rinks and ponds where skating was accessible by anyone. I even made a back yard skating rink one year. All that was required was a snow shovel and a hose connected to an outdoor faucet.

In all of the years that I have skated, I have never heard of "clack" skates. The company Salomon, in the French Alps town of Annecy near the Swiss border makes these skates as part of their cross country ski line. Essentially they are long blades that clip onto the front of your cross country ski boots and convert your boots into skates.
If you are skiing through the woods and come across a lake, you unlatch your cross country skis, dig out the blades out of your back pack and away you go across the ice.

They are called clack skates because the blade is not attached to the heel, and as you skate, they make a clacking sound on the ice.
They took a bit of getting used to. You cannot skate backwards with them. You have to lift your feet high because the heel is not attached. You can't be fancy on your feet. To stop, you have to drag the blade sideways, but you cannot be too aggressive because of the single point of attachment. The most efficient way of skating is pushing off in the traditional ski-skate move of cross country.

If you are just travelling straight ahead on ice, these skates are great. There is less resistance because of the long blade length. You can get quite a speed. As a matter of fact, because there is so little resistance to moving with the long blade, the slightest breeze would push me.

The ride is really smooth over rough lake ice, and these would be great for trekking. They did take some getting used to, and when I was skating against the wind for several kilometers, the boots started to loosen. The boots, instead of traditional tie-up laces, had a tension-spring lace arrangement where you just pulled the laces through a gizmo and a spring-loaded stop held them in place. Needless to say, it was hard to skate with your boots becoming loose on your foot.

All in all, clack skates were wonderful if you are just going forward from one place to another over rough ice. And you don't have the bother of lacing up skates. They just pop on and off. Apparently a lot of people use these things on the Rideau Canal in downtown Ottawa. It is the longest skating rink in the world, at eight kilometers, and many people skate to work. Clack skates work wonderfully for that.

UPDATE: I am getting a lot of hits about CLACK SKATES because of the winter Olympics. If you want to buy some clack skates, here is where you can get them:

It is a store called TRAILHEAD in Ottawa Canada, and their contact info is:

Phone: 613.722.4229
fax: 613.722.0245

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