Let’s face it: most of us think of rollerblading as an activity you engage in as a kid, at the same time you’re learning to bike and scooter and generally move around in the world. That’s not all that rollerblading’s about, though. There are multiple variations and styles of the sport, as well as games and tricks associated with it. Whether you’re into speed, jumps, flying sticks and pucks or slow-mo, chances are rollerblading has something awesome in store for you.
Here are four great reasons to rollerblade.
In fact, on the right feet, rollerblades become as explosive of equipment as skateboards and as exciting as any other extreme-sports activity. Take this video, a classic of freestyle rollerblading, in which a practitioner shreds up a parking lot with incredible skill and agility. He slides sideways across patches of water; he catches air off of raised surfaces and grinds on the edges of benches. As becomes obvious pretty quickly, the rollerblades provide him an impressive amount of speed and range of movement, and the rollerblader capably takes advantage of that by using the different parts of his surroundings.
2. Make It a Game
If you’re the type who likes to get up to constructive activities in your free time, you’ll appreciate roller hockey more than freestyle skating. Roller hockey is very similar to ice hockey except, because there’s no ice, the level of friction is higher. That means that players have more control and, therefore, power in both their shots and their movements, creating a slightly more deliberate and strategic game of hockey than the type that takes place on ice, even though it’s slightly slower. And as you can see from these guys, the highlights of the game remain the same: the passing, the shooting, the quick movements and the constant shifting of the puck from place to place. In fact, without the slick unpredictably of the ice, many of these factors become even more important.
One of the interesting differences between ice hockey and roller hockey — aside from the skates, of course — are the pucks. In ice hockey, the puck is made of vulcanized rubber and often kept frozen, for maximum sliding ability along the ice. In roller hockey, the pucks are made of plastic and have little wheels on either side that facilitate movement, since, obviously, wooden floors have considerably more friction than ice. This also changes the way the pucks fly through the air. Number one, they hurt a goaltender far less than the vulcanized rubber pucks used in ice hockey. Number two, they’re lighter, and so you can do things like this with them. I mean, maybe not you — I would imagine that pulling off a shot like this doesn’t come without a lot of practice and calculation. But it’s possible, as you can see.
3. Get Aggressive
Roller blades aren’t the only type of equipment you can use for this type of skating. Roller skates – the ones with four wheels that you generally see at 12-year-olds birthday parties – make excellent half-pipe tools, and skaters can pull off incredible tricks and impressive clearance of the ramp while using skates. Although some people can’t even stand on roller skates, the four-wheel setup gives greater stability, balance and control to those who know how to use them than roller blades are able to, and so you see skaters balancing and utilizing the limps of ramps as though they’re walking along a bridge. Skating, like other extreme sports, relies heavily on feel and improvisation, and so, whether you’re using roller skates or roller blades, you’re tapping into the same vein of skills to be successful.
4. Make a Montage
Don’t appreciate the sport yet? Just slow it down. The beauty of skating becomes pretty clear to see when spun in slow-motion, in which you can identify the trickiness of what these guys are trying to pull off. Dragging a set of wheels along the impossibly thin edge of a stone structure, all it takes is the slightest wrong movement and you end up eating pavement. And because the skates are attached to your feet, you can’t just lose them like a skateboard, and try and jump off and regain your own footing. If your skates catch and trip up, then you catch up, and down you go. In that way, you get to feel the skates as a part of your body in a way that you can’t a piece of equipment that you aren’t wearing. In that way, skates really make a difference.