Full disclosure: I was a figure skater; dance mostly, and I naturally had a partner.
Wifa (pronounced “whiffa”) was (still is?) a high-end Austrian skate manufacturer that mostly did custom-made skates. I had the great good luck to find a secondhand pair of Wifas that fit me perfectly, back in 1976. I paid through the nose for them, plus I paid for blades (John Wilson Coronation Ace blades). My partner and I went on to win many club championships, and I always wore my Wifas.
About thirty years ago, when I was going for a recreational skate at the local rink in my Wifa boots and Coronation Ace blades, a young girl said, “Are those real Wifas?” I said yes. She was blown away: “I’ve never seen real Wifas!”
Question: Are Wifas that unusual?
Hi fellow skater. I’ve never seen Wifa’s in any of the rinks I’ve skated at in the US. GAM’s either. I’ve spent my summer vacations skating at Lake Placid where you’d think I’d see some uncommon brands on the coaches at least, but just the usual brands.
I have custom Harlicks with Pro’s.
Hi, Spoons! Figure skating mom here. When our daughter was heavily into figure skating we were living in Europe and Wifas were the gold (medal?) standard. Daughter’s skills soon outgrew the Jackson’s she had been using and she began to lobby for Wifas. And the Coronation Ace blades. We gave in and drove to Oberstdorf to get her fitted for boots and blades. They took measurements, casts and made note of an orthopaedic condition which required offset blades to compensate. We drove back a month later to collect the finished skates. The craftsmanship was beautiful but pricey. Thank goodness for a strong Canadian dollar back then. Then came the agony of breaking them in! Thank goodness for duty-free vodka (for the skates, not the skater or her parents)!
They made a tremendous difference in her skating.
We sold the outgrown skates for much more than we paid for them upon our return to Canada!
Nice to hear from others. I think when you get into the really high-end skates, there are likely a lot of brands you won’t know about unless you’re a serious skater.
Great story, Das Glasperlenspiel. Kind of glad I was able to get my Wifas secondhand–they were pricey, but not as much as they would have been, had they been custom-made as your daughter’s were. But they fit perfectly, so they might as well have been custom-made.
Did you ever hear of Kneblis (ka-NEB-lees)? Knebli was the custom skate maker in Toronto, when I was skating. It was quite expensive to have Knebli skates custom-made, but he also sold used skates, and it was from him that I got my Wifas and my blades.
I never heard of these. I can in to say that I keep reading the thread title as Wife skates.
Now you’ve piqued my interest.
Please tell us how you were wasting the good vodka.
Wifas (and other high-end figure skates) are leather. Thick leather. When you get the boots, they are rock hard. The owner has to “break” the leather in all the right places for comfort and stability when performing jumps and spins. Soaking a pair of socks in alcohol, lacing on the boots, and wearing them around the house breaks them in faster. The alcohol softens the glue and stiffeners and helps the leather conform to the shape of the foot. It also dries quickly. A lot of the skaters at our skating club on the base in Germany used duty-free vodka to do this because it was cheaper than rubbing alcohol at the time.
I have no doubt that present-day skates use more technical materials like memory foam padding but breaking in new skate boots will always be a painful process.
Good points. My skates, being secondhand, didn’t need breaking in, but the leather is quite thick–I’m sure they could deflect bullets. Well, maybe not, but they are certainly not your average Bauer or CCM skate that you might get at Canadian Tire.
I figure skated for many years and was fortunate to have my skates custom made by Mr. Knebli himself. I had 6 pairs over my career. At that time we either had WIFAs or Kneblis.
I still have 2 pairs and 30 years later still skate on them.
He was a wonderful man…and didn’t charge us tax because my feet were so small.
Loved my Kneblis