Let's talk about short track blade metals and their characteristics.

Welcome to our quick overview of speed skating blades, more specifically short track metals and their different characteristics.
Please note that the information below is strictly a guide for blade metals (also known as “blade runners”) and does not make reference to tube strength considerations. Different blade manufacturers have different tube and runner combinations therefore this article does not provide a complete buying guide nor reference guide for skater weight, level, or performance.
Please contact Nagano Skate for more detailed blade manufacturer information if you are interested in a certain blade make and model.


Special note:



When we refer below to “impacts” with the blade we are typically referring to two blades coming together and hitting each other with great intensity. If you were to lightly contact your blades together (or with someone else’s blades) you are more likely to create a strip, notch, or slight kink in the metal, which is repairable. We use the term “explode” below to describe the intense breaking of the metal, typically seen in PM steel blades. Rest assured this is not a life threatening event and is more commonly seen by athletes and coaches as an unfortunate part of high-performance skating.



Different types of metals used in short track: Chrome - Bi-Metal - PM steel blades



  • 12c27 Chrome: High quality beginner and intermediate steel.
    • More flexible and hardenable (Rockwell C scale) up to 58HrC.


  • Bi-metal : a high quality intermediate and advanced steel.
    • Bi-metal: as the name describes, is a two metal design where a harder metal is in contact with the ice surface and a softer metal with the tube of the blade. This bi-metal can even be seen with the naked eye.
    • The softer metal section of the blade allows for greater malleability when a skate technician uses a bender to create the proper bend shape in the blade.
    • Chemical composition: C-Si-Mn-Cr-Mo-V-W 
    • Metal memory: High quality bend characteristics and responds well to a blade bender BUT requires “touch-ups” more often after having experienced tension.
    • No physical difference in “feeling” on the ice if we compare Bi-metal with PM steel. (strictly speaking about bend quality and on ice feelings)
    • The blade deforms more frequently but has fewer chances of exploding on impact. The blade will likely kink instead of completely break.



  • PM Steel: Top quality elite and professional steel.
    • PM steel stands for compressed metal powder (PM) and is considered one of the best metals in the speed skating industry.
    • Metal memory: High quality bend characteristics and responds well to a blade bender. Additionally, the blade returns to its correct bend shape after having experienced tension (ex: apex of the corner, during a race, or an intense practice).
    • No physical difference in “feeling” on the ice if we compare PM steel with a Bi-metal blade. (strictly speaking about bend quality and on ice feelings).
    • Higher chances of exploding on impact BUT keeps its bend profile much better (which means fewer visits with the skate technician).




Different qualities (For each individual and athlete profile*)




  • 12c27 Chrome :12c27 Chrome: Recommended for younger beginner and intermediate athletes. Easier to sharpen and holds a nice edge. The edge [when compared to Bi-metal and PM] is less durable but still considered a high quality metal for club skaters.
    • 12c27 Chrome = beginner and intermediate skaters.
    • Less durability = more frequent strips and notches.
    • Recommend if you skate 2-3 times a week with your club.



  • Bi-metal: Recommended for intermediate-advanced, advanced and elite athletes (depends on various factors: weight, strength, power etc…)
    • Bi-Metal: Intermediate and advanced (club or regional athletes)
    • For advanced and elite (top regional and provincial) athletes, asking a skate technician for runner quality can help find the perfect bi-metal blade with no factory waves in the metal, to help gain that extra competitive advantage.
    • Recommended if you skate 4 to 5 times a week.



  • PM steel : Recommended for elite and Pro level athletes.
    • Steel PM: elite and professional athletes (best provincial, national and international athletes)
    • These quality blades rarely have any small factory waves in the metal due to their great design.
    • Recommended if you skate more than 5 times a week.



Different hardness levels (see Rockwell C scale):



    • Chrome: 56-58
    • Bi-metal: 62-64
    • Steel PM: 62-64


What is the Rockwell Scale?





*Refer to far left column: Rockwell C Scale 150 Kgf


Selection of athlete weight and tube strength:


  • Blade companies have their unique stiffness and tube characteristics.
    • Some models are intended for club level skaters. (considered soft and flexible blades)
    • Flexible options, designed for younger and/or lighter athletes.
    • Some companies offer "intermediate" options that offer developing athletes and/or lightweight, powerful athletes the opportunity to skate with blades that are stiffer but are forgiving and not ultra-stiff.
    • Rigid, firm blades, designed for developed athletes and/or heavier, more powerful skaters.
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