Roller Overview
What's Going On in Roller Skating These Days?


Roller Overview

Coach, Sara Stinnett

Roller's been around for well over 100 years. And it's popularity continues to grow even today. Recreational outdoor skating has had major growth in the last several years since the beginning of the "RollerBlade" inline skate.

The traditional "Quad" skate is still popular and the skate of choice by most figure skaters. It's agility and stability allow beautiful spins, turns, dancing and lots of fun skating "tricks". The quiet, fast inline skate quickly took over the roller speed skating world when it was introduced.

A warm summer day along the lake...there you will find the recreational inline skaters, rolling and visiting with friends. A new fitness activity for the loner or the sociable, it is a good aerobic and endurance workout.

Also outdoors, inline racing has huge races around the country. The outdoor National Championships is where the skaters are chosen for the World Team, to participate in the annual World Championships. Speed skating is also in the Pan American Games.

Indoor roller skating ranges from the recreational session skater, (meeting friends at the rink on the weekend, skating parents and kids on a Sunday afternoon, skating birthday or school parties...can you do the Bird Dance?) to the competitive roller figure skaters or inline racers. Recreationally or competitively and everywhere in between, roller skating is a family sport. Parents and their children often participating together.

Inline racing is a fast growing sport. A 100 meter almost oval track is used for racing indoors. Races are done in groups, so the excitement of the speed and cornering with the interaction of the competitors as they pass within the pack makes this a great spectator sport. Skaters (as young as 3 and into the 60's) train frequently to learn correct skating form, to develop strength and endurance, which put together with the right attitude create speed. The skaters are athletes with intense and exhausting practices with off skates skating specific drills, plyometrics and stretching as a regular part of their training. Racers are divided by age and male or female, and also participate in relay teams of two or four skaters.

The skaters on a speed team develop close personal relationships of friendship and respect. Children and adults train together, keeping communication open between the generations. Often the older skaters serve as good role models for the younger ones, and the younger ones help keep the older ones young! The common love of the sport is a bond that has no age barrier.

Members of teams around the country become friends as they meet on the "start line" and compete with each other. Parents are often present at the team practices and develop friendships amongst themselves as they watch their kids train. The parents also become friends with other skating parents around the country. It is a competitive but supportive group of athletes...cheering each other on while National and World time records are challenged and broken. The coaches around the country are also friendly and supportive, open to sharing training techniques and strategies with each other for the development of good skaters and the growth of the sport.

Figure skating has long been enjoyed on the ice. But the world of roller figure skating has never received the exposure and recognition that the beautiful and graceful sport, and the talented and dedicated athletes deserve. The athletes can perform the same quality of jumps and spins, lifts and dances, with charming and exciting personalities--we just haven't got to do it on television! There are rumors that inline racing may bring roller skating into the next Summer Olympics. This would be a great boost for the athletes that have trained hard and excelled, competing and winning at the World Championships and the Pan American Games with basically no publicity. The love of the sport and self satisfaction have been their reward.

Competitive roller figure skating is divided into several disciplines: FIGURES: Tracing 6 meter circles on one skate with intricate turns, judged for surety of the tracing, symetry of the turns, and correct posture; DANCE: Team dance: Male and female skating prescribed traditional dances such as Blues, Tango, Waltz, Foxtrot, March and Polka; Solo Dance: Male or female performing the same traditional dances without a partner. Dances are judged on timing to the music, correctness of the performanceof the dance steps, placement of the steps on the floor, grace and style; Creative Solo: Male or female skating 2-1/2 minutes of a creative performance choreographed to any kind of music, which may include words, often expressing a character and incorporating high drama and fun and including minimal jumps and spins; Freedance: Male and female as a team, skating a choreographed expressive routine which is mostly footwork and expressive movements interpreting a theme, including some small lifts, more "dance" than the athletic "pairs" routines; FREESTYLE: Singles: Jumps and spins choreographed with intricate footwork and interpretive expression, performed by one person, males compete against males, and females against females. Pairs: Male and female skating together doing exciting lifts and spins together, combined with shadow skating and contact expressive movements.

As in inline speed skating, the friendships among the competitive figure skaters know no age limit. Skaters of all levels and ages encourage one another and share the excitement of their beautiful sport. Skaters train hard for years to accomplish the moves that they are required to execute with the appearance of effortlessness. Toughness of body and mind contribute to a great performance.

Competitive skaters (both figure and speed skaters) learn many life skills in their training, often greatly improving their self-esteem and confidence, which can trickle down into better performance in school and closer relationships with their parents. Poise and body awareness are gained. Fitness guidelines, sports psychology and nutritional tips, along with goal setting and the value of perserverance in attaining goals, motivation and self-discipline are also learned.

The national governing body of competitive roller skating is called USA Roller Sports, located in Lincoln, Nebraska. They register amateurs (verifying birthdate for competitive age divisions and providing some secondary accident insurance for injuries received during supervised training or competitions), sanction competitions, sponsor training opportunities at the Olympic Training Center several times a year, hold coaching seminars in Las Vegas once a year, and are involved in the certification of coaches. They also publish a skating magazine quarterly and a coaching newsletter.

7-3-2008 Sara moved to New York.

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