Richmond farmhouse creates world's best figure skates
When you watch Gracie Gold skate for gold at the Winter Olympic Games, now you have something else to look for.
Pay attention to her skates.
For the past six years, she's been getting them from a company right here in Indiana.
Who would have thought the road to Sochi runs through Richmond?
But in an old farmhouse along West Eaton Pike, Hoosiers are literally helping to shape Olympic dreams. The shop, home to the company Skates U.S., is the source of ice skates for Gold and other Olympians.
What you see her wear on the ice in Russia was purchased in Richmond, Indiana.
"It's strange, yes, but that's where most products come from is an area where you don't expect it to come from," said Skates U.S. technician Josh Schuyler.
The owners of Skates U.S., David and Carolyn Ripp, have a long history in skating.
David's grandfather owned a skate shop in Ohio and built skates for David's mother, when she was a competitive roller skater. David was a competitive roller skater, as well.
Their company sells both high-performance roller skates and ice skates. It's now the exclusive U.S. distributor for Edea, an Italian skate manufacturer.
Their Olympic clientele includes Gracie Gold and three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada.
Schuyler says the 2014 Winter Games have made a big impact. Business is up 25% just in the past few weeks. Boots and blades run between $1,000 and $2,000.
Schulyer customizes the boots for elite athletes. He handles fittings in the shop or takes foot tracings sent in by figure skaters. Then he heats the boot, using salon-style hair dryers, to contour a fit, before putting on the customer's choice of blades.
"That's the first thing people say - 'A hair dryer?' - but it's the best way to do it to get the proper temperature," Schuyler explained. "The boot just gets really soft and pliable once that area's been heated. Then we can shape that area to form their foot a little bit better. That way, (figure skaters) can concentrate 100% on what they're trying to accomplish."
Their most famous client has accomplished quite a lot. Gold won a bronze medal as part of the new team figure skating event in Sochi.
"I was very happy to see Gracie last night skate and she did very well, personal best even," Schuyler said.
Helping her achieve a dream is also personal for the people who work at Skates U.S. - the Hoosiers who craft and ship out hundreds of skates each week, from a farmhouse to the most famous world stage.
Skates U.S. website