Aggressive inline skating
Aggressive inline is a form of inline skating executed on specially designed inline skates with focus on grinding and spins. Participants refer to the activity as rollerblading, "blading", "skating" or "rolling".
Aggressive skating tricks can be performed on street obstacles or on ramps. Street skaters perform more grinds and slides, whereas ramp skaters have more air-time and therefore can perform other, often acrobatic tricks. Aggressive skaters can perform grinds by using the frames and plastic plates on the bottom of the skate. Grinds are usually done on rails and ledges although they can be performed on any obstacle which slides such as a curb or even chains. Similar to grinding, a "cess slide" involves sliding on the sides of the skate so the wheels aren't touching the ground, and can be performed on any surface that will allow for sliding.
Since 1994, the sport has been chronicled in various skating films and "edits".
In 1980, a group of ice hockey players in Minnesota were looking for a way to practice during the summer. Scott and Brennan Olson formed the company Rollerblade, Inc., to sell skates with four polyurethane wheels arranged in a straight line on the bottom of a padded boot. In 1988, Rollerblade introduced the first aggressive inline skate, the Rollerblade Lightning TRS. Aggressive inline skating finally developed as an organized sport in the early 1990s. The Aggressive Skaters Association (ASA) was formed by a number of aggressive inline skaters in 1994 as a forum to develop rules governing competitions and equipment. The sport was included in the first X-Games in 1995 and included vertical ramp and street event competitions. It reached its height in popularity in the late 90s, with mainstream movies like Disney's Brink! and other films. The "Senate" brand, run by Arlo Eisenberg, was very popular during the 1990s.
Founded by company owners/skating legends Brian Shima, Jon Julio and Kato Mateu and supported by all major skate companies, the World Rolling Series (WRS) links together the best skaters, event organizers, retailers and skate parks and aims to "create a tighter knit community, increase overall awareness and set a higher standard for aggressive rollerblading". The WRS circuit started in 2009 with 10 established professional contests in France, Netherlands, England, Spain, Australia and the United States. In 2012, WRS now includes 100+ Amateurs and Professional events categorized from 1 to 5 stars in over 20 countries.
Aggressive inline skating was removed from the ESPN X-Games in 2005 although it is still included in the Asian X Games, LG Action Sports Competitions, Montpellier Fise, and many other large competitions, some associated with WRS, some not.
Brian Aragon and Chris Haffey are generally considered the current "superstars" of the sport, with many competition titles and signature skates, alongside other riders like Jon Julio, Jeff Stockwell, Alex Broskow, Richie Eisler, Montre Livingston, Mike "Murda" Johnson, CJ Wellsmore, Franky Morales, Chris Farmer, Dustin Latimer, Soichiro Kanashima, Julian Bah, Sean Kelso, Roman Abrate, Mathieu Ledoux, Billy O'Neill, and many more. They are all professional skaters who have been sponsored by prominent skate brands.
Current aggressive inline skate manufacturers include Valo, Xsjado, Remz, USD, Rollerblade, K2, SSM, Razors and Adapt Brand.
In street skating, also known as freestyle skating, the skater performs tricks by utilizing features existing in a common, everyday environment. This involves skaters grinding hand rails and concrete ledges, jumping stairs, ramping off of embankments and generally turning anything on the regular street into an obstacle, ramp, or grind rail. Creativity is often seen as an important aspect of street skating, since skaters are able to invent or link tricks specific to a unique environment, rather than performing more standard maneuvers on predefined obstacles as in park and vert skating.
Park skating refers to skating that occurs in various private and community skateparks. This style differs from street skating due to the specific nature of skate parks, which are designed for skaters to do tricks, e.g. on the top of the ramp (coping). Park skating often emphasizes the technical side of aggressive inline, focusing on the variety of tricks a skater can do and encouraging skaters to connect tricks. A series of tricks connected together in a fluid motion over different obstacles is known as a 'line'. Skate parks often feature quarter pipes and half-pipes, curved ramps and other features that are not usually found in a regular urban setting. A better quality skate park will have good lines—making it easier for skaters to perform tricks. Good skateparks have a flow to them.
Aggressive inline skates are specially designed to be tougher and stronger than normal inline skates, due to the high levels of stress placed on the skate by the stunts and tricks a skater performs. A typical skate consists of a number of different parts.
|Cuff||an ankle support cuff with an adjustable strap|
|Shell||a boot made of high-impact plastic that surrounds and protects the feet|
|Liner||a soft inner boot|
|Soul plate||a flat, hard plastic plate on the sole of the boot|
|Negative Soul plate||a flat, hard plastic plate on the inner sole of the boot|
|Frame||a hard plastic chassis for the wheels|
|Backslide plate||a grinding area flush with the soul plate, near the middle of the boot, used for grinding on the boot|
|Wheels||two to four polyurethane wheels with bearings|
|Anti-rocker wheels||two plastic wheels that sometimes replace the inner two wheels|
Typically each part is replaceable, and certain manufacturers provided parts that have been divided into individual sections, so a skater can replace specific worn areas.
The chassis of the skate, called the frame, bolts to the bottom of the skate. Skaters grind on the frames, which are designed for this purpose.
There are several different variations on frame design. Originally a skate had four wheels on each skate, with a gap between the middle wheel where a plastic insert called an H-block was used for grinding. During earlier times, a plastic plate, known as the 'grind plate' was attached to the frame on the outside of the two middle wheels instead of an H-block. This allowed normal recreational skates to be converted into aggressive skates, and it was how most aggressive skates were built at the time. On aggressive skates with H-blocks, the grind plate could be used to increase the life of the H-block. But as frame manufacturers began making removable H-blocks, the grind plate fell out of favor. As the sport evolved, skate companies started manufacturing wheels that were intentionally hard and undersized, in order to facilitate grinding. The undersized wheels are called anti-rockers, and replace the two middle wheels.
Generally, there are three different types of modern frames: Flat, Anti-Rocker, and Freestyle. Flat, as described above, means you have four wheels per skate. There is another variation of this called the Hi-Lo setup. This means it has large outer wheels, but small inner wheels to make grinding easy. The inner wheels' axles are closer to the ground so that all the wheels touch the ground.
Anti-Rocker, as also described above, is the most popular setup. Freestyle frames have no inner wheels, giving the user a large amount of space in the middle for grinding. Another setup that's gaining popularity, called tri-rocker, means that there are three wheels per skate. The remaining axle hole is left empty or replaced with an anti-rocker wheel. This combines the benefits of a flat setup (going fast and turning easily) with the benefits of an anti-rocker/freestyle setup (grinding easily). The frame company Create Originals makes frames that are meant for tri rocker to be a possibility.
In the late 1990s, the Universal Frame System (UFS) was introduced by frame manufacturers to allow the user to easily customize their skates. This led to increased customization of skates within the sport by allowing the user interchangeability between different company's frames. Today, all major frame and skate manufacturers support UFS.
Modern skate wheels have undergone many years of development and iteration. The development of the main material, polyurethane (usually simply called urethane), has been dependent on advancements in the polymer industry. The balance between hardness and grip is the key to an optimum skate wheel. Aggressive skate wheels are usually between 54 and 60mm, while anti-rocker wheels are between 40 and 47mm.
Two high density polyurethane or plastic wheels with high hardness between 40 and 47mm, replacing the inner two wheels. Some skaters prefer replacing only one of the inner wheels with anti-rockers (called tri-rocker). Anti-rocker wheels enable skaters to grind obstacles with a relatively high diameter. These wheels, unlike normal wheels, give skaters a relatively large margin of balance error while grinding on a concrete curb or ledge. While normal wheels get stuck on concrete surfaces, the much harder anti-rocker wheels will simply slide because of the friction being less, allowing skaters to lean out of their center of balance without tripping. Some people prefer a four wheel setup because grinds must be done perfectly to succeed.
Skate videos began in 1994 with the relatively wide release of The Hoax: An In-Line Crime. K2 Sports, Salomon and Rollerblade were early proponents of the sport and released their own videos. Senate, arguable the first inline-only company, released a number of influential films during the 1990s. Videogroove, Mindgame, Razors, KFC, and Valo released a number of notable films during the early 2000s. During this period the genre transitioned from VHS to DVD like much of the rest of the entertainment industry. They have similarly transitioned to the digital format since the 2010s.
Skate videos, like their skateboarding and bmx counterparts, feature skaters both professional and amateur, in "edits", segments of skating usually accompanied by one or more songs. Because these videos are often bootleg, non-commercial releases, this music is often used without permission. Alternatively, original music is sometimes created specifically for the film. The NIMH Team Video, a Brian Shima product, was recently met with acclaim, in large part due to its soundtrack, which featured mostly obscure Rock songs from the 1980s and before (Dead Moon, Satan's Rats, Lost Sounds).
A 2006 documentary, Barely Dead, gives an overview of skating, focusing on its popularity and sharp decline.
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