After chatting with Terrance he thought some of you might be interested in my sport. Besides that I figured it could be a good place to discuss figure skating in general. It just might be the queerest sport...well, unless someone starts a men's synchronized swimming team ph34r

In 1975 I (Marc) began roller skating on the weekends at our local skating rink in Lorain, Ohio. My mother wanted to go shopping so $2.50 was a cheap way to drop me off at the rink for 3 hours and have them babysit. Not long after that I began class lessons and within a year I was addicted. I spent ever hour I could skating every public session, every practice and even wanted to help sweep the floors.

After 22 years of training and competition I finally accomplished my lifetime goals in Roller Figure Skating. I was able to capture 5 US Nation titles in freeskating and pairs, 4 time US World team member and 1997 World and World Games Champion.

Roller Figure Skating is very similar in structure to ice Figure Skating. The biggest differences of course are the facilities and equipment. Roller floors are usually made of hardwood maple, pecan or concrete with a special coating called "Roll-On." Traditional skates, called quads for their wheel placement, are used in 99% of Artistic Figure Skating events. The wheels are made of specially formulated compounds to react with the "Roll-On" floor finish. The wheels hardness gives the skaters the ability to make easy spins or turns while a softer wheel grips to the surface to help secure a jump landing. It's very common for skaters to checkerboard their skates with a mixture of wheels based on their needs or the floor condition since temperature and humidity can affect the floor surfaces on a daily basis. For example, a hot, humid day would probably be cause for a tight, sticky floor which is hard to spin or turn on.

Roller Skating is made up of 3 basic disciplines; Artistic, Speed and Hockey. Hockey is divided into inline and quad events. Roller speed skating is divided into indoor and outdoor events. Each then has several categories including quad and inline events, men, women and coed, relays, sprints and distance. The outdoor speed events also include the bank track, which is a track with elevated corners (Banks) and road races.

Artistic Figure Skating has 4 sub-disciplines; Figures, Dance, Pairs and Freeskating (also referred to as singles, or freestyle) and all divisions are determined by age until you get to the Jr. and Sr. events which are determined by ability. Figures is considered the basis for all other skating because it teaches all the fundamental edges and turns. Figures in it's most basic form is simply following the circles laid out on the skating floor. As skaters get more advanced they include turns and edge changes at precise intervals of the figures. Names of turns include 3-turns, rockers, brackets, mohawks and counters. There are also 8 edges. Outer and inner edges on both feet both forward and backward...ROF, RIF, ROB, RIB, LOF, LIF, LOB, LIB This is how they are labelled in skating manuals.

Dance skating is probably the most popular because it is often incorporated with public skating sessions. Skaters at even the most basic levels and any age can learn a dance and be able to participate. Dance skating is one of the most popular forms of exercise for ederly people. Dances are a series of steps written out in a pattern on the floor. All dances have male and female steps and can be skated either solo or together. They include all kinds of edge changes and different steps set to a tempo of music including the tango, march, waltz, foxtrot, schottishe and polka. Advanced skaters then get into the latin rhythms like the samba, mamba, paso doble, cha cha, tango and jive. Senior skaters who want to compete for international status will skate 3 dance disciplines; compulsory dances, original dance and the freedance. I can explain these in more detail should someone be interested.

Pairs skating has always been my favorite. It requires a male and female partnership (unless you are skating at the Gay Games *wink*.) and includes many different lifts, contact spins, contact footwork, side by side (shadow) jumps, shadow spins, shadow footwork and throw jumps. Each division has their own rules and requirements. For example, Juvenile Pairs would be ages 9-10. No overhead lifts are allowed, 1 contact and 1 shadow spin, 1 shadow jump, etc...with a 2:30 time limit. In Senior pairs, anything goes in the long program with a time of 4:20-4:40. Short programs have the only requirements for the Senior division. Again, please ask questions about more detailed information.

Freeskating includes a musical program of jumps, spins and footwork. The difficulty of the jumps is based on the take-off edges, assisted or non-assisted (meaning toe or no toe-off used) and rotation. Some of the jumps you may have heard of include single, double, triple or quad;

axle jump (take-off LOF *left outer forward edge* non assisted, landing ROB)

toe or mapes jump (take-off ROB assisted using the left toe, landing ROB)

toe wally jump (take-off RIB assisted using the left toe, landing ROB)

salchow jump (take-off LIB non assisted, landing ROB)

flip jump (take-off LIB assisted using the right toe, landing ROB)

lutz jump (take-off LOB assisted using the right toe, landing ROB)

loop jump (take-off ROB non assisted, landing ROB)

Common spins include upright, sit and camel spins. However in roller skating we have a few more inovative spins that are impossible on ice, like the heel camel spun on the back 2 wheels of the skate, the traveling camel which covers a large surface of the floor and an inverted camel which is a camel spin where the skater flips upside down on the same edge and continues spinning.

Well there you have it. Cometitive Roller Skating 101. I hope I didn't put you all to sleep. Please feel free to ask any questions about ice, roller, the championships, scoring system, etc.

Love to All,

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