If you’ve been ice skating, you’d know that when you look at your ice skate boot, it looks fairly similar to rollerblades. In fact, the only big difference it would seem is that with a rollerblade, you have rubber wheels. But the placement and, in many cases, the rough thickness of the wheels are very similar to each other.
It’s also easy to see the similarity in terms of the movement that you are able to generate when you are skating compared to when you are rollerblading. They’re roughly the same. When you are on the ice, you are balanced on blades and after a while you establish a solid balance and you are able to achieve a high rate of speed.
The same applies to rollerblades. In the beginning you may be a little bit wobbly and then after a while you gain your balance and then you pick up a high rate of speed. Best of all, in terms of maneuverability, it would seem that ice skating and rollerblading have a lot in common.
The great thing about ice skating, of course, is that when you go at a high rate of speed, you can execute turns fairly quickly. Also, depending your your skills, the turns can be quite tight. This makes a big difference depending on what you’re trying to achieve on the ice. If you’re doing figure skating, you definitely need to execute really tight turns.
This also requires a tremendously high rate of speed. With rollerblading, you have a lot more diverse range of movements, but you can’t pretty much execute the same tight turns as ice skating. As similar as these two sports may appear, there’s actually quite a bit of difference.
Of course, it’s easy to see that rollerblading was inspired by ice skating. You have to understand that when roller skating first made the scene, the design of the typical roller skate is very different from a rollerblade. Rollerblades use one line of wheels. Roller skates use two rows of wheels, and it’s easier to establish your balance with roller skates.
The first time you strap on some roller skates, it’s a lot of fun. As long as you know how to brake, you’re pretty much in business fairly quickly. Why? It’s easier to get your balance. This is not the same with rollerblades.
With rollerblades, your first goal is to be comfortable balancing on the skates. The good news is, once you get that out of the way, everything else pretty much falls into line very quickly. Not so with roller skating because with roller skating, you still have to learn how to stop and turn. The turns are a little bit more problematic, but you can get the hang of it because it’s actually a lot more fun and less intimidating roller skating.
This is why a lot of people try roller skating first, then they master it, and then they move on or they level up to rollerblading. Now with all that said, does it logically follow that if you do really well at rollerblading then ice skating is a cinch? Not so fast. There’s a totally different dynamic when you’re on the ice compared to when you are on a hard surface rollerblading.
According to experts, skating on ice is a little bit more difficult because the way you stop is not straightforward. It’s a lot more elaborate. In many cases, it’s a lot more complicated. Also, the blade that you are using to skate on ice is much thinner than rollerblades. Rollerblades use rubber wheels that are much thicker than the typical ice skate blade.
In terms of fit, which impacts how you move on the ice, it would seem that rollerblades use a boot design that isn’t as tight fitting is as ice skating skates. This is a big deal because on the ice, especially if you’re doing figure skating, your feet have to move precisely and this means that the form of the skate has to be form fitting.
On the other hand, rollerblades have to really go high up on your legs. In fact, they can go as high as your shins. This can be a little bit painful if you don’t know what you’re doing. This is why a lot of people who first try their hand at rollerblading consider it quite a chore. It’s physically demanding. It really takes it out of them.
Another difference that you need to keep in mind is the braking system of the typical ice skate and rollerblades. On a conventionally designed rollerblade, the brake or the rubber stop is at the back portion of your heel. Skaters, on the other hand, have the brake, also called a toe pick, is positioned near the front section of their skate’s blade.
This is the usual setup, although expert skaters actually dispense with the toe pick altogether. With proper training, you really don’t need a toe pick to stop. You only need to work on the friction created by the blade the way you position it near the stop to actually stop your motion. Of course, if you’re just starting out, you probably would need to rely on a toe pick.
Since ice skating involves the ice, it provides a smoother experience because what you’re really doing is you are gliding on frozen water. It makes for a more balanced experience. Your legs and your feet are not subject to much shock. It’s a fairly smooth and balanced experience even at high rates of speed and even when you’re making really sharp turns very quickly.
The same cannot be said of roller skates. Usually when you roller skate, you are dealing with concrete pavements. While a really smooth pavement may make for a great, nice and smooth experience, you really can’t be sure that all your surfaces will be smooth. When there is any kind of imperfection or flaw on the concrete or asphalt surface, you will definitely feel it. This is why, on average, you have a much rougher experience using rollerblades than when you use ice skates.
Skills You Learn
The bottom line is, ice skating and rollerblading really teach you different skills. While rollerblading focuses on you learning how to balance and exercise smooth turns with optimal control, these are easier to achieve with ice skating. The downside to this is that learning might be a little bit higher because you have to really work with the ice skate blade.
Believe it or not, the larger rollerblade wheel frame gives you a shorter learning curve compared to the ice skate because the ice skate that you normally use would be shorter, and this means you have to focus on your balance. Also, you can’t get too aggressive on the ice because you’re going to cut into the ice.
The good news is, regardless of which one you start with, you just have to put in more time to master what you’re doing. In that respect, ice skating is just like rollerblading. You get out what you put in.