Figure Skating, Meet Roller Blading

I tried inline skating in high school. 

There were four of us on a street near our school – small towns – gliding up and down the paved road. Minus me. I was too nervous to move, convinced I’d do a face-plant. So much for that cardio exercise. 

When I was a preteen figure skater, I knew someone who used to roller skater competitively as a teenager.

She could land an Axel, I couldn’t at the time. She could do other cool jumps and spins that were also in figure skating. Sure. Neat. But that’s on wheels – a wider surface. We land on a blade. My sport is harder, right?  

If I’d watched competitive artistic roller skating as a kid, I may have switched sports.

The jumps, spins, footwork – even figures. Competitive artistic roller skaters don’t use protective equipment either. As skaters, we jump off the ice hoping to land on our thin blade rather than our elbow, and roller skaters leap off a rock hard gymnasium floor, hoping for the same outcome. 

One aspect separating figure skating from roller skating is figures. Our sport eradicated compulsories after the 1990 World Figure Skating Championships in Halifax, Canada. In roller skaters still trace figures over a large figure eight pre-drawn on the gym floor. Bladers are judged on balance and accuracy. 

Just as in figure skating, competitive roller skaters have singles, dance, pairs, and synchronized skating. You forget you’re not watching skating. 

Figure skating has been part of the Olympics since the 1908 Summer Games in London, and there’s a push from some in the roller skating community for their sport to be included in subsequent games. 

Roller skating is a difficult and beautiful sport without room for error or being off-time. The only difference between figure skating and competitive roller skating is what we wear on our feat. Which are no doubt blistered and sore from training for hours. Knowing you have one chance to impress the judges.  

And that makes us equal.

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