Why is inline skating popular among Olympic speed skaters? Well, it turns out that there’s a lot of commonality between ice skating and inline skating. This commonality is strong enough to enable Olympic speed skaters to keep honing their skills during the off season. If you are an ice speed skater or any kind of ice skater, you probably already know that the year is not very kind to your sport.
Let’s face it, depending on where you live in the world, winter can be very, very short. In fact, if you live in the tropics, winter is non existent. Forget about it. If you live in the northern climates, you have a much better go at your sport because the cold part of the year is much longer. Still, even in places like Norway, Sweden or Russia, there’s still a summer. So there’s still a part of the calendar where there is absolutely no snow.
Now you can compensate for this by going to higher elevations that might have a snow lake, but those places may be too far from the major cities of the country you’re in. Also, you have to be in the right country. It’s going to be a problem if you live in Southern California, for example, which really has no snow, but can get cold at certain points in the year. What do you in that situation?
Well, the good news is, there is enough commonality between inline skating and ice skating, especially speed skating, that you can use rollerblades when you cannot slap on your ice skates. Sounds pretty awesome, right? This is precisely the reason why inline skating is very popular among Olympic speed skaters. They feel that they are essentially exercising the same skills.
If you think about it, and look at the different videos of inline skater accelerating and Olympic speed skaters speeding up, you would notice that they pretty much use the same parts of their body. Pay attention to their feet, pay attention to their legs, how they position them, and most importantly, pay attention to their hips. The way you control inline skates and the way you use them to increase speed is really not much different from the way you move your body on the ice as a speed skater.
For these reasons, Olympic speed skaters use inline skates or rollerblades to hone their skills during the off season. It doesn’t matter whether there is no ice around or whether there is or isn’t an ice rink in your city. You would be able to practice pretty much whenever you want, wherever you want.
No Ice Rink Replacement
Ideally, if you live in Southern California, for example, or a part of the United States that doesn’t really have snow like Southern Florida, you should practice your speed skating in an ice rink. A lot of major American cities have a dedicated ice rink. These are not necessarily public or government owned facilities, but you can get access to a flat surface with ice on it. In other words, you’re going to get access precisely to the surface that you are going to be practicing your speed skating skills on. Pretty straightforward, very basic. This should be your first choice.
The problem is, for a wide variety of reasons, people don’t always have access to such a rink. For example, if you are an Olympic speed skater living in Southern California, you may live in a city that is far away from Central Los Angeles or certain parts of the greater Los Angeles basin. What do you do if you live in the inner valley, for example, or up north? Do you see the logistical issue here?
So just because there’s an ice rink somewhere in the greater area, it doesn’t always make a lot of sense to use that facility. This is especially true if you’re going to be jumping into your car, hopping onto a freeway and driving maybe 1 hour each way just to practice on the ice.
Now, most Olympic athletes won’t think twice about making that kind of sacrifice. After all, they’re all about their sport, they’re all about excellence, they’re all about perfection. Fine. But the problem is, reality can often get in the way because these people also have lives. They have other responsibilities and obligations.
A lot of times they have work, or they have to go to school, or they have families. So it may not seem like such a terrible imposition to use the freeway or highway system for up to 2-3 hours each day, but if you look at everything else going on in their lives, this may prove to be too much. In this particular context and other contexts involving time, practicality and logistics, it makes a lot of sense to consider just using inline skating as a proxy activity for inline speed skating.
Of course the nitty gritty and fine tuned specifics of each sport involve enough differences to prevent any automatic equivalents. I understand that. That’s not the issue. The issue is, given the options you have on a practical level, does it make sense to substitute inline skating or rollerblading with Olympic speed skaters?
In many cases, it’s just a simple matter of necessity. There is really no other option. It’s not like there is a high quality substitute staring at you in the face ready for you to take advantage of. In many cases, it just simply doesn’t exist. So within this particular context and many others, it makes sense to just replace inline skating for many months of the year.
Now, as the event gets closer, a lot of Olympic speed skaters start transitioning to the ice. This enables them to adjust the techniques that they learned while inline skating and step their game up just in time for the big competition or big event. In this situation, you get the best of both worlds. You compensate for the lack of proper infrastructure, but at the same time, you keep your skills primed at such a high level that when the times to actually perform, you are not operating at a disadvantage. Given the circumstances, this is probably the best you could hope for and we can all thank inline skating for this option.