Roller skating is the traveling on
surfaces with roller skates. It is a form of recreational activity as well as
a sport, and can also be a form of transportation. Skates generally come in
three basic varieties: quad roller skates, inline skates or blades and
tri-skates, though some have experimented with a single-wheeled
“quintessence skate” or other variations on the basic skate design. In America,
this hobby was most popular, first between 1935 and the early 1960s and
then in the 1970s, when polyurethane wheels were created and “Disco” oriented
roller rinks were the rage and then again in the 1990s when in-line outdoor
roller skating, thanks to the improvement made to inline roller skates
in 1981 by Scott Olson, took hold. History
1743: First recorded use of roller skates, in a London stage performance.
The inventor of this skate is unknown. 1760: First recorded skate invention, by
John Joseph Merlin, who created a primitive inline skate with small metal
wheels. 1818: Roller skates appeared on the
ballet stage in Berlin. 1819: First patented roller skate
design, in France by M. Petitbled. These early skates were similar to today’s
inline skates, but they were not very maneuverable. It was difficult with
these skates to do anything but move in a straight line and perhaps make wide
sweeping turns. Rest of the 19th century: inventors
continued to work on improving skate design.
1823: Robert John Tyers of London patented a skate called the Rolito. This
skate had five wheels in a single row on the bottom of a shoe or boot.
1857: Finally, roller skating had gained enough momentum to warrant the opening
of the first public skating rinks. The Strand, London and Floral Hall had these
first roller rinks. 1863: The four-wheeled turning roller
skate, or quad skate, with four wheels set in two side-by-side pairs( front and
rear ), was first designed, in New York City by James Leonard Plimpton in an
attempt to improve upon previous designs. The skate contained a pivoting
action using a rubber cushion that allowed the skater to skate a curve just
by pressing his weight to one side or the other, most commonly by leaning to
one side. It was a huge success, so much so that the first public roller skating
rinks were opened in 1866, first in New York City by Plimpton in his furniture
store and then in Newport, Rhode Island with the support of Plimpton. The design
of the quad skate allowed easier turns and maneuverability, and the quad skate
came to dominate the industry for more than a century.
1876: William Brown in Birmingham, England patented a design for the wheels
of roller skates. Brown’s design embodied his effort to keep the two
bearing surfaces of an axle, fixed and moving, apart. Brown worked closely with
Joseph Henry Hughes, who drew up the patent for a ball or roller bearing race
for bicycle and carriage wheels in 1877. Hughes’ patent included all the elements
of an adjustable system. These two men are thus responsible for modern day
roller skate and skateboard wheels, as well as the ball bearing race inclusion
in velocipedes—later to become motorbikes and automobiles. This was
arguably, the most important advance in the realistic use of roller skates as a
pleasurable pastime. 1876: The toe stop was first patented.
This provided skaters with the ability to stop promptly upon tipping the skate
onto the toe. Toe stops are still used today on most quad skates and on some
types of inline skates. 1877: The Royal Skating indoor skating
ring building is erected rue Veydt, Brussels.
1880s: Roller skates were being mass-produced in America from then. This
was the sport’s first of several boom periods. Micajah C. Henley of Richmond,
Indiana produced thousands of skates every week during peak sales. Henley
skates were the first skate with adjustable tension via a screw, the
ancestor of the kingbolt mechanism on modern quad skates.
1884: Levant M. Richardson received a patent for the use of steel ball
bearings in skate wheels to reduce friction, allowing skaters to increase
speed with minimum effort. 1898: Richardson started the Richardson
Ball Bearing and Skate Company, which provided skates to most professional
skate racers of the time, including Harley Davidson..
The design of the quad skate has remained essentially unchanged since
then, and remained as the dominant roller skate design until nearly the end
of the 20th century. The quad skate has begun to make a comeback recently due to
the popularity of roller derby and jam skating.
1900: The Peck & Snyder Company patented an inline skate with two wheels.
1902: The Chicago Coliseum opened a public skating rink. Over 7,000 people
attended the opening night. 1979: Scott Olson and Brennan Olson of
Minneapolis, Minnesota came across a pair of inline skates created in the
1960s by the Chicago Roller Skate Company and, seeing the potential for
off-ice hockey training, set about redesigning the skates using modern
materials and attaching ice hockey boots. A few years later Scott Olson
began heavily promoting the skates and launched the company Rollerblade, Inc..
1993 – Active Brake Technology, Rollerblade, Inc. developed ABT or
Active Brake Technology for increased safety.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Rollerblade-branded skates became so
successful that they inspired many other companies to create similar inline
skates, and the inline design became more popular than the traditional quads.
The Rollerblade skates became synonymous in the minds of many with “inline
skates” and skating, so much so that many people came to call any form of
skating “Rollerblading,” thus making it a genericized trademark.
For much of the 1980s and into the 1990s, inline skate models typically
sold for general public use employed a hard plastic boot, similar to ski boots.
In or about 1995, “soft boot” designs were introduced to the market, primarily
by the sporting goods firm K2 Inc., and promoted for use as fitness skates.
Other companies quickly followed, and by the early 2000s the development of hard
shell skates and skeletons became primarily limited to the Aggressive
inline skating discipline and other specialized designs.
The single-wheel “quintessence skate” was made in 1988 by Miyshael F. Gailson
of Caples Lake Resort, California, for the purpose of cross-country skate
skiing and telemark skiing training. Other experimental skate designs the
years have included two wheeled inline skate frames but the vast majority of
skates on the market today are either quad or standard inline design.
Artistic roller skating Artistic roller skating is a sport which
consists of a number of events. These are usually accomplished on quad skates,
but inline skates may be used for some events. Various flights of events are
organized by age and ability/experience. In the US, local competitions lead to 9
regional competitions which lead to the National Championships and World
A prescribed movement symmetrically composed of at least two circles, but
not more than three circles, involving primary, or primary and secondary
movements, with or without turns. Figures are skated on circles, which
have been inscribed on the skating surface.
=Dance=In competition skaters can enter more
than one event; Solo Dance; solo dance an a competition
starts at tiny tot and goes up to golden, for a test it starts with bronze
and goes up to gold. You do not have to take tests anymore to skate in harder
categories, you must have couple of test once you get to a certain event though.
In competition these dances are set patterns and the judges give you marks
for good edges, how neat they look and how well they do turns, etc.
Team Dance; this is where two people skate together doing the set dances.
Most people skate with a partner the same ability and age.
Skaters are judged by the accuracy of steps that they skate when performing a
particular dance. In addition to being judged on their edges and turns, skaters
must carry themselves in an elegant manner while paying careful attention to
the rhythm and timing of the music.=Freestyle=
Freestyle roller dancing is a style of physical movement, usually done to
music, that isn’t choreographed or planned ahead of time. It occurs in many
genres, including those where people dance with partners. By definition, this
kind of dance is never the same from performance to performance, although it
can be done formally and informally, sometimes using some sparse choreography
as a very loose outline for the improvisation.
=Precision teams=A team of skaters creates various
patterns and movements to music. Often used elements include skating in a line,
skating in a box, ‘splicing’, and skating in a circle. The team is judged
on its choreography and the ability to skate together precisely.
=Singles and pairs=A single skater or a pair of skaters
present routines to music. They are judged on skating ability and
creativity. Jumps, spins and turns are expected in these events.
Speed skating Inline speed skating is a competitive
non-contact sport played on inline skates. Variants include indoor, track
and road racing, with many different grades of skaters, so the whole family
can compete. Group skating
Among skaters not committed to a particular discipline, a popular social
activity is the group skate or street skate, in which large groups of skaters
regularly meet to skate together, usually on city streets. One such group
is the San Francisco Midnight Rollers. In 1989 the small 15-20 group that
became the Midnight Rollers explored the closed doubIe-decker Embarcadero Freeway
after the Loma-Prieta earthquake until it was torn down. At which point the new
route was created settling on Friday nights at 9 pm from the San Francisco
Ferry Building circling 12 miles around the city back at midnight to the start.
Although such touring existed among quad roller skate clubs in the 1970s and
1980s, it made the jump to inline skates in 1990 with groups in large cities
throughout the United States. In some cases, hundreds of skaters would
regularly participate, resembling a rolling party. In the late 1990s, the
group skate phenomenon spread to Europe and east Asia. The weekly Friday night
skate in Paris, France is believed to be one of the largest repeating group
skates in the world. At times, it has had as many as 35,000 skaters
participating on the boulevards of Paris, on a single night. The Sunday
Skate Night in Berlin also attracts over 10,000 skaters during the summer, and
Copenhagen, Munich, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, London, San
Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Tokyo host other popular events. Charity
skates in Paris have attracted 50,000 participants.
Aggressive inline Aggressive inline skating is trick-based
skating. This is where the individual performs tricks using a slightly
different skate to normal. The skate has a grind block in between two wheels and
the various companies have designed the boots to take these extra strains. Also
the wheels have a flat large contact surface for grip.
Aggressive inline can either take place at a skate park or on the street.
Typically predominantly grinds but also air tricks such as spins and flips.
Roller hockey Roller hockey is the overarching name
for a rollersport that existed long before inline skates were invented.
Roller hockey has been played on quad skates in many countries worldwide and
so has many names. Roller hockey at the 1992 Summer Olympics was a demonstration
rollersport in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Skating federations In the United States, the controlling
organization is USA Roller Sports, headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, also
home of the National Museum of Roller Skating. Nationals are held each summer
with skaters required to qualify through regional competitions.
Roller derby Roller derby is a team sport played on
roller skates on an oval track. Originally a trademarked product
developed out of speed skating demonstrations, the sport is currently
experiencing a revival as a grass-roots-driven 5-a-side sport played
mainly by women. Most roller derby leagues adopt the rules and guidelines
set by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association or its male counterpart,
Men’s Roller Derby Association, but there are leagues that play on a banked
track, as the sport was originally from c.1933-1998.
Other groups Other groups include:
International Roller Sports Federation British Federation of Roller Skating
Skate Australia In popular culture
1916 – Charlie Chaplin film “The Rink” is partially set at a roller skating
rink & roller skating party. 1955 – Gene Kelly used roller skates as
part of a dance routine in It’s Always Fair Weather.
1971 – The song Brand New Key by Melanie Safka uses roller skates as a theme.
1972 – Kansas City Bomber, starring Raquel Welch, is about the roller derby
scene. 1975 – Rollerball – A dystopian SciFi
centered on a roller skate based tournament.
1979 – Roller Boogie with Linda Blair 1980 – Xanadu, with Olivia Newton-John,
has rollerskating as a recurring theme. 1980 – Heaven’s Gate with Kris
Kristofferson and Christopher Walken, which is set in 1890s Wyoming, features
a scene in an early roller skating rink called “Heaven’s Gate”.
1984 – Starlight Express, a musical written by Andrew Lloyd Webber opened on
London’s West End. The cast perform on quad skates.
1995 – Man of the House features a scene where Jonathan Taylor Thomas uses early
model rollerblades to get around Seattle.
1998 – In the Disney Channel Original Movie Brink!, in-line skating is
presented as an extreme competition for teens in California.
2005 – The plot of the film Roll Bounce centered on a group of teenagers who
compete in a rollerskating competition in the late 1970s.
2006 – In the movie ATL, set in Atlanta, the protagonist – rapper, T.I. – and his
friends had a great love for skating. 2008 – MTV’s Americas Best Dance Crew
auditioned Breaksk8, a group of Hip Hop dancers on roller skates.
2008 – The songs “Seventies” by Laurent Wolf and “Kim&Jessie” by M83, featured
the “Miss’ile” skate dancers 2009 – The movie Whip It, starring Ellen
Page and Drew Barrymore – Barrymore also directing – centers on a small-town girl
who joins a hard core all-girl roller derby team.
2009 – In the MTV television film My Super Psycho Sweet 16, a roller skating
rink Roller Dome 2010 – In the movie Skateland, starring
Shiloh Fernandez and Ashley Greene, which is set in the 1980s, when roller
skating was very popular and many teenagers used to go to roller rinks.
2010 – In the first season Glee episode Home, a local roller rink called Rinky
Dinks is used for rehearsal space for the glee club after their auditorium is
commandeered. 2015 – Rap duo Rae Sremmurd’s music
video, “Throw Sum Mo”, is filmed at Moonlight Rollerway near Los Angeles,
Roller skating, like skateboarding, has created a number of spin-off sports and
sports devices. In addition to rollerblades/inline skates, there have
also been: Soaps, normal-looking street/skate shoes
with a concave plastic plate in the sole to allow grinds.
Heelys, normal-looking street/skate shoes with a single retractable wheel in
the heel of each shoe, allowing the wearer to perform unique
rollerskating-like moves at leisure while still walking normally when the
skating functionality isn’t desired. The fact that skateboarding and related
wheeled sports are outlawed in many cities and suburbs makes the low key and
spontaneous nature of Heelys all the more enticing to the same demographic.
Heelys were later also combined with Soaps into a single hybrid shoe.
Freeline skates, a class of unattached skates that wearers place under their
normal street or skate shoes. They typically have 2 closely set inline
wheels set with a short base under a small squarish plate. This arrangement
allows for a range of motion similar to single-wheeled skates like Heelys. Due
to the lack of straps on the contact plate, freeline skates require constant
motion to stay on, and are a particular challenge for novices.
Two-wheeled skates: there are also other lesser seen two-wheeled skate
arrangements. Some resemble inline skates but with 2 very large wheels
bolted in at an angle from the outside rather than a center-balanced row of 4
smaller wheels underneath of inline skates. Others resemble freeline skates
in that they have a small squarish platform, but with 2 medium-sized wheels
on either side, somewhat between a freeline skate and roller skates.
Orbit wheel skates, another spiritual relative of the freeline skate whereby
the skate stands on a grip-tape-surfaced platform inside of a large hoop that
contains a trapped wheel that can freely rotate under the grip plate each foot is
planted on. The foot plates normally rest on the trough of the inner surface
of these orbital wheels, with the toes pointing orthogonal to the rotation of
the ringed wheel. It’s said the experience of riding them is somewhat
similar to skateboarding, and there are variants with the two wheels connected
so the rider is fixed in a skateboarding-like stance.
See also References
Turner, James, in collaboration with Zaidman, Michael. The History of Roller
Skating. National Museum of Roller Skating. ISBN 0-9658192-0-5.
National Museum of Roller Skating: Homework Page
United States Amateur Confederation of Roller Skating. American Roller Skate
Dancing Part I Bronze and Silver Dances Edition X. An Official USAC/RS
Publication. p. 9. Pickard, George,. Titans and Heroes of
American Roller Skating. National Museum of Roller Skating.
For a comprehensive listing of roller skating rinks and teachers from 1950 to
1912 120 Hours Longest Non-Stop Relay Roller
Skating Marathon World Records External links
Media related to Roller skating at Wikimedia Commons