Inline speed skating

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This article is about wheeled speed skating. For ice speed skating, see speed skating.
Inline skaters competing

Inline speed skating is the roller sport of racing on inline skates. It is often called inline racing by participants. Although it primarily evolved from racing on traditional roller skates, the sport is similar enough to ice speed skating that many competitors are now known to switch between inline and ice speed skating according to the season.

Skate[edit]

An inline speed skate is a specialized shoe version of the inline skate. The boot or shoe is close-fitting, without much padding and usually made of leather and carbon fiber and/or fiberglass composites. For best performance, the boot must conform closely to the shape of the foot, so most inline speed skating boots are heat-moldable, which allows the user to re-shape the boots to some extent when heat is applied (by placing the boots in oven at 185 °F (85 °C) for 15 minutes after taking off the wheels, frames, and straps/buckles). It is also quite common to have boots custom-made for improved fit. [1]

Speed skating boots are low-cut and offer little ankle support, allowing the skater extra ankle movement. Skin blisters due to friction can be a problem, and common solutions include: neoprene or silicone "ankle bootee" such as "Ezeefit" or "Bunga Pads", double thin synthetic socks, smaller boots, improving technique, re-moulding the boots, sports tape, and use of "advanced healing" plasters to help recovery.

The frame (sometimes called the chassis or plate) which holds the wheels is made of aircraft-quality aluminum, magnesium, and new developments in technology have allowed Carbon fiber. Frames flex during skating, and the amount of flex can be a personal factor in which one to choose. Very "stiff" frames are usually favoured by heavy skaters. A frame which is too stiff for a particular skater may feel unstable on corners, and a frame that is not stiff enough will be slower. Frame stiffness also works along with boot and wheel stiffness, so there are endless possible variations. A light frame is desirable. Ideal frame length is affected by foot size and wheel size. A slightly shorter frame is often preferred for the tight curves of smaller tracks but is slower. A longer frame is faster but much harder to turn.

The frame position can usually be adjusted with respect to the skate, to adjust for a skater's individual foot, ankle and leg characteristics. The typical Inline mounting is 195mm, which is different from the ice mounting of 165mm. The frame usually mounts three, four, or five polyurethane wheels. The three wheel frames are used by skaters with small feet, otherwise 4 wheel frames are commonly used, with 90 mm to 110 mm diameter wheels. Five-wheel frames with smaller wheel have lost favor. Each wheel contains two ball bearings with an aluminum spacer, held in place with an axle screwed into the frame.

Larger wheels require better skating technique, so skaters generally progress upwards in wheel size as they gain experience. "Hi-Lo" arrangements are also available, which usually have three larger wheels and one smaller wheel under the ball of the foot, allowing a lower and shorter overall frame design.

Harder wheels minimize elastic hysteresis energy absorption, due to skater's weight deforming the solid polyurethane "tyre". So, speed skaters tend to select the hardest possible wheels, with the highest polyurethane durometer for their skating condition, limited by either wheel slip or surface roughness. Durometer selection is also affected by skater weight, and temperature. Wheels for indoor use are hardest with a durometer of 88–97. They tend to last well, but can be easily damaged if used outdoors. Wheels for outdoor use are softer with a durometer of 82–87, and tend to wear more quickly. Harder outdoor wheels can also be used effectively indoors. Skaters sometimes combine different hardness wheels on the same skate in an attempt to achieve the best combination.

Skaters also refer to wheel "rebound". This refers to the relative height to which a dropped wheel rebounds. It is a reasonable comparative indicator of the relative energy absorbed by elastic hysteresis of a wheel during skating.

Bearing sizes have been standardized around the popular 608 series. A smaller and lighter 688 series has had limited acceptance. Bearing manufacturing precision generally run from ABEC-1 to ABEC-11, and some skate bearings are additionally designed to be "loose" to minimize ball rolling friction.

Various grades of steel offer better hardness, rust resistance etc. Bearings with ceramic balls (and races) have been available since the late 1990s, They are lighter and longer lasting, however significantly more expensive. Black silicon nitride ceramic is superior to white zirconium dioxide ceramic, since it is considerably harder and tougher. At the modest rotational speeds encountered in skates, manufacturer data suggests negligible difference in friction performance between the various bearing materials. At these speeds, ball bearing friction tends to be dominated by seals and lubricants.

Bearing shields reduce the entry of dirt into the bearing. Metal and rubber non-contact shields are commonly used, of which rubber shields are slightly more effective. Neither shield type is totally effective, often resulting in the need for bearing maintenance. The ball retainer is usually made of either metal, plastic, or glass. Plastic types are preferred since they are quieter.

Bearing lubrication is usually either light oil or grease. Synthetic types last longer before breaking down. Grease assists in holding dirt away, and stays in the bearing longer, reducing maintenance and increasing bearing life. The lifetime of bearings used for outdoor speed skating is often quite limited due to damage caused by dirt ingress.

In search of the maximum speed the principal goal is to minimize wind resistance, hence the use of skinsuits, special helmets and techniques. The second issue is elastic hysteresis energy absorption in the wheel. The distant third is bearing internal friction, a set of bearings in good condition, properly inserted and lubricated is normally enough.

Technique and control[edit]

Competitors warming up before a race.

Mechanically, strokes in speed skating are deeper and faster (to a sharper angle, closer to the point of losing traction) than recreational skating but not as deep or as fast as in ice speed skating. This is because of the greater frictional forces in the direction of travel and lesser ability to apply friction without slipping of wheels on a hard surface compared to a steel blade on ice.

Speedskaters move each foot across the center line of travel, leading to the double push a method named by United States skater Chad Hedrick(This is a normal efficient skate technique that is learned as skater gets comfortable with skates). The technique allows two pushes in each stroke of the skate. However, it can be tiring for inexperienced skaters who have improper technique and they will often save it until needed, such as the latter stages or final sprint of a distance race. With proper execution, the double push is an energy saver. The double push is mostly used in outdoor racing and the straightaways of indoor skating.

Turning is significantly more difficult with inline speed skates than recreational skates because of more and larger wheels, creating a longer wheelbase. The wheel profile, that is, the cross-section, is parabolic, with a sharper shape than recreational or aggressive wheels, allowing the skater to essentially skate on a smaller, and hence more agile, wheel when leaned over in a turn.

Brakes are not generally used on speed skates so various other techniques to slow down are used, such as slaloming (skating s-curves) or v-plowing (or "snow-plowing"), where the heels are pushed outward and the toes inward. It is not readily obvious to an observer from a skater's stance that the skater is v-plowing, if it were the skater would quickly crash. The v-plow is often the stop used in situations where there is little lateral and forward room to stop. One technique is the T-stop, essentially dragging one foot perpendicular to and behind the other, however this wears the wheels of that skate quickly. Another stop involves picking up one foot and setting it down quickly and repeatedly somewhat perpendicular to the forward motion while keeping weight on the other foot. Hockey stops are possible on speed skates, but require a very deep lean in order to cause the wheels to lose traction and slide, also the fact that wheels are sliding means that the wheels are also wearing down very quickly. Grass runouts are always a last option, given an adjacent grassy area.

An inline speedskater takes much time to stop and often has still fewer options in an emergency, often taking several hundred feet on a level surface to come to a stop at a full, controlled deceleration. Thus, a skater should be familiar with and proficient in stopping techniques before attempting difficult situations such as heavily travelled roads or hills.

Tactics[edit]

Tactics in outdoor inline racing are similar to those of marathon ice speed skating and of road bicycle racing. Skaters tend to form packs or "pacelines" (also called "pelotons") in which skaters line up behind a lead skater, thereby saving energy by skating in his draft. Sportsmanship requires that skaters in the paceline share the duty as paceline leader. Those who never "take a pull" at the front will likely find other skaters tactically working together to defeat them.

During the course of a race skaters may make "attacks", speeding up the pace in an effort to weed out the weaker and slower competition. These attacks may include "breakaways" and "fliers", in which skaters try to create new smaller and faster packs or else to escape entirely from the other skaters. Depending on the length of the race and the skills and the cooperative effort of the chasers, these breakaways may or may not prove successful. If a skater escapes a pack in order to join a successful breakaway group, it is known as "bridging up".

When skaters who are member of teams participate in a race together, they often have pre-determined roles. One or two would be designated attackers whose role it is to tire out the competition. Another skater may be the designated winner for the team, and he may avoid chasing any breakaways until late in a race, possibly until the final sprint if the lead pack has never broken up.

Quad speed skating[edit]

Conventional roller-skating racing is still a recognized discipline within the realm of roller sports. Although participation has significantly declined, the sport holds national championship competition in the United States at the inline speedskating national championships.

Quad roller-skating racing is the precursor to the popularity and acclaim received by competitive racing on in-line skates. Up until 1991 all World Championships were held on quad skates. Most events at the 1992 World Championships were specific to quads, however, some events were classed as "open" giving the athlete the option of choosing either quads or in-lines. The same criteria was applied for the 1993 World Championships. In 1994 all events were declared as "open". Despite this it had soon become evident that in-lines were predominantly quicker than quads on all surfaces and all tracks and to this end athletes opted for in-lines over quads, as is still the case today.

Race venues and formats[edit]

Inline speed skating races are held in a variety of formats and on a variety of surfaces.

Indoor races are most common in the United States, which has a long tradition of racing on skates at rinks. The competitions are generally held at roller skating rinks with plastic coated wood floors and less commonly, a plastic coated cement floor. The track is about 100 m in circumference. At USARS (USA Roller Sports) events, tracks are marked by four pylons set in a parabolic oval, while at NIRA (National Inline Racing Association) events, tracks are marked by multiple pylons that create an oval shaped track. Events, or meets, are typically structured so that members of numerous age groups race in three or four distances. For the more populous divisions, there may be a number of heats in order to qualify for the final race. To some extent, indoor inline races are similar to short track speed skating.

Outdoor races may be held on regular pavement on city streets or park roads, or they may be held at specialized venues similar to velodromes, sometimes called patinodromes. A patinodrome is generally about 200 m in circumference and may be surfaced with asphalt, concrete or similar material. The curves may be banked. Such specialized skating tracks are relatively common in Europe but rare in the United States. The international governing body for World Roller Sports, Federation Internationale de Roller Sports (FIRS) and its technical committee, Committee International de Course (CIC), are making strides to commonise tracks used specifically for World Championships that have the same size, shape and surface. Plans for such tracks are available from FIRS upon request.

Race formats include:

Time trials
Held "against the clock", each skater races individually or in pairs over a distance of 100 m to 300 m, attempting to establish the best time. Time trials are occasionally held over longer distances, but they are very physically demanding and not popular.
Sprints
Skating in small groups of about a half dozen over a distance of 300 m to 1000 m, skaters advance in a series of heats to a final round.
Elimination races
In these moderate-distance races, also known as last man out, the hindmost skater is eliminated from the competition each time the pack of skaters complete a lap or when they complete certain specified lap numbers. At one or two laps to before the finish, the group has usually been pared down to four or five skaters. At this point the first across the finish line is the winner.
Points races
In these moderate-distance races, the first, second and third skaters to cross the start/finish line at certain specified laps are awarded points. Laps late in the race are worth more points, with the final lap worth the most points of all. It is possible to win a points race without actually being the first to cross the finish line at the end.
Points-elimination races
A combination of elimination races and points races.
Relays
Relay events include teams of two to four skaters each. Indoor meets may include "mixed" relay events in which teams have either one female and one male OR two females and two males, but outdoor relays (usually held on tracks) are usually if not always single-sex events. In a mix relay, it is traditional that a female goes to the starting line as the first skater to race.
Criterium races
Instead of racing a specified distance or number laps, the skaters skate for a certain amount of time, then plus a (small) number of laps. The time is typically between 15 and 45 minutes, after which a bell is rung and the skaters informed the race is over when they skate one or two more laps around the course. The portion of the race skated after the bell is rung is known as the bell lap (or laps).
Distance races
Although events such as points-elimination races and criteriums may cover a distance of 10 to 25 km, a distance race usually refers to a race over a set distance of about 5 km or longer and without specialized points or elimination rules. The event may be truly point-to-point or may held on a repeating course with a circumference of at least 1 km. Distance races are often marketed to the general populace and not just to members of inline racing clubs.
Marathons
Lately there is a new movement of skaters bringing big masses to events, this events are the skate marathons, 42.195 kilometres (26.219 mi). The most popular marathons in the USA are: The The North Shore Marathon and Saint Paul Inline Marathon, however they are now taking place all over the world including the Goodwood Roller Marathon in the UK. These races gain more popularity everyday as skaters form friendships and bonds at these events.
Ultra Marathons
Ultra Marathons draw large numbers, given the time needed to complete such events, one could say that they are the equivalent to a running marathon, this events were very popular in the late 1990s but declined after the year 2001, there is a new movement of people keeping this events alive and bringing them back to the forefront of the speed skating world.
There are two very old and popular Ultra Marathons in the USA:
  1. The New York City Skate Marathon And NY 100K The New York City Skate Marathon & NY 100K on its 17th year this event has drawn the best skaters in the world such as Chad Hedrick and Derek Parra.
  2. Athens to Atlanta Road Skate (The A2A) [1] This is the longest running point to point event in the USA with a maximum distance of 86.7 miles (139.5 km).
In the early days of inline racing, sponsors of distance races were often also running event organizers, and the races they organized were commonly the same distances as those of running races, about 5–10 km. By the mid-1990s such events were proving to not be very popular and in the United States, where sales of inline skates were also beginning to slip, there was a decline in participation at races. However, at about that time in Europe, where inline skate sales were beginning to rise, race sponsors began to regularly organize longer events, particularly inline marathons. Such events proved to be enormously popular among fitness skaters, with some events such as the Berlin Inline Marathon (with more than 11.000 at its peak) and the Engadin Inline Marathon in St. Moritz, Switzerland, regularly attracting over 5000 skaters each year.
In about 2000 American event sponsors followed suit, and inline half-marathons and marathons were scheduled more and more frequently around the country. As in Europe the events proved a big draw with fitness skaters looking for events which would give their training a focus. However, by 2005 this surge was tempered as some major events were either postponed for a year or cancelled permanently. In the United States the most popular inline marathon has continued to be the NorthShore Inline Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota.
In 1999, a team of six British men led by Paul Robinson skated from Land's End to John O'Groats, a distance of 886 miles (1,426 km). This is the only known long-distance skating event held in the world to date.
Dryland triathlons
Occasionally organized by triathlon sponsors, these events substitute inline skating for the swimming component of the race. These events were infrequent even during the mid-1990s boom in inline skating participation. Today they are rare to non-existent.
Downhill races
An event most popular in the Alpine countries of Europe, these races are timed events down a steep course. The use of concrete bobsleigh courses in summertime is not uncommon. Racers usually skate alone and the event commonly uses the best time of two heats to establish the winner. Downhill inline racers usually wear skates much more like "regular" inline skates than inline speed skates, along with extensive body covering and protective gear, and strong helmets. They may reach speeds of up to 130 km/h. The International Inline Downhill Association (IIDA) [2] is the largest organization for inline downhill racing, holding races on several continents.

World Championships[edit]

Year Road Track Country City Nations Gold Silver Bronze
1937 *  Italy Monza Men Only
1938 *  Italy Ferrara Men Only
1938 *  United Kingdom London Men Only
1948 *  Italy Monfalcone Men Only
1949 *  Italy Ferrara Men Only
1949 *  Portugal Lisbon Men Only
1951 *  Italy Monfalcone Men Only
1953 *  Italy Venice-Lido
1954 *  Italy Bari
1956 *  Spain Barcelona
1957 *  Italy Palermo
1958 *  Italy Finale Ligure
1960 *  Belgium Wetteren
1961 *  Spain Voltrega
1961 *  France Gujan Mestras
1962 *  Italy Venice-Lido
1963 *  France Nantes
1964 *  Spain Madrid
1965 *  Belgium Wetteren
1965 *  Italy Siracusa
1966 *  Argentina Mar del Plata Men Only
1967 *  Spain Barcelona Women Only
1968 *  Italy Alte Montecchio
1969 *  Argentina Mar del Plata Men Only
1975 *  Italy Sesto San Giovanni
1978 *  Argentina Mar del Plata
1979 * *  Italy Como/Finale Emilia
1980 * *  New Zealand Masterton
1981 * *  Belgium Leuven/Ostende
1982 * *  Italy Finale Emilia
1983 *  Argentina Mar del Plata
1984 *  Colombia Bogota
1985 *  United States Colorado Springs
1986 *  Australia Adelaide
1987 *  France Grenoble
1988 *  Italy Cassano d´Adda
1989 *  New Zealand Hastings  Australia  United States  Italy
1990 *  Colombia Bello 14  Italy  United States  Colombia
1991 *  Belgium Ostende  United States
1992 *  Italy Roma  United States  Italy  Australia
1993 *  United States Colorado Springs  United States
1994 * *  France Gujan Mestras  United States  France  Italy
1995 * *  Australia Perth  United States
1996 * *  Italy Padua/Scaltenigo  United States
1997 * *  Argentina Mar del Plata  United States
1998 * *  Spain Pamplona  United States
1999 * *  Chile Santiago  United States
2000 * *  Colombia Barrancabermeja 31  Colombia  United States  Chile
2001 * *  France Valence d´Agen  United States  France  Spain
2002 *  Belgium Ostende  Colombia  Italy  United States
2003 * *  Venezuela Barquisimeto  United States  Colombia  Italy
2004 * *  Italy L'Aquila 39  Colombia  Italy  United States
2005 * *  China Suzhou 31  Colombia  United States  Italy
2006 * *  South Korea Anyang 46  Colombia  South Korea  New Zealand
2007 * *  Colombia Cali 42  Colombia  South Korea  United States
2008 * *  Spain Gijon 57  Colombia  South Korea  United States
2009 * *  China Haining Official Website 42  South Korea  Colombia  Chinese Taipei
2010 * *  Colombia Guarne 34  Colombia  South Korea  United States
2011 * *  South Korea Yeosu Official Website  Colombia  South Korea  Chinese Taipei
2012 * *  Italy Ascoli Piceno 34  Colombia  Italy  South Korea
2013 * *  Belgium Ostend 51  Colombia  Italy  Belgium

Olympic status[edit]

Attempts by the world governing body for roller sports, the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS), to gain Olympic status for any of its disciplines were distinctly insufficient in the closing decades of the 20th century. Most notably, it failed to capitalize when rink hockey (a form of roller hockey) appeared as a demonstration sport at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Efforts by FIRS to obtain Olympic status became more coherent in about 2000, with inline speed skating promoted as the roller sport best suited for the Olympics. However, the federation faces competition from approximately 20 other sports also seeking entry into the Olympics, while at the same time the president of the International Olympic Committee has expressed a desire to reduce the size of the summer Olympic Games. Roller sports was a candidate sport for the 2016 Summer Olympics, following the drop of baseball and softball, but the Olympic Committee eventually chose rugby sevens and golf instead.

Notably, roller speed or in-line speed skating has been an included sport at the World Games since their inception in 1981.

World records[edit]

Track[edit]

Male
Distance (m) Skater Time Date Place
300 Simon Albrecht  Germany 23,003 28 July 2014 Geisingen (Germany)
500 Andrés Felipe Muñoz  Colombia 39,769 1 September 2011 Yeosu (South Korea)
1000 J.L. Botero  Colombia 1:23,09 12 April 1988 Medellín (Colombia)
1500 G. De Persio  Italy 2:07,770 1 August 1980 Finale Emilia (Italy)
2000 R. Kloess  Germany 2:54,560 28 August 1980 Inzell, Germany
3000 Giuseppe De Persio  Italy 4:21,764 1 August 1980 Finale Emilia (Italy)
5000 Mirko Giupponi  Italy 7:34,938 29 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
10000 Bart Swings  Belgium 14:41,425 18 September 2009 Haining (China)
15000 Peter Michael  New Zealand 22:02,458 25 August 2013 Oostende (Belgium)
20000 Paolo Bomben  Italy 30:52,792 29 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
30000 T. Rossi  Italy 47:42,820 29 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
50000 T. Rossi  Italy 1:20:17,736 29 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
Updated August 25, 2013
Female
Distance (m) Skater Time Date Place
300 Yersy Puello Ortiz  Colombia 25,993 23 August 2013 Oostende (Belgium)
500 Paola Segura  Colombia 43,586 25 August 2013 Oostende (Belgium)
1000 Barbara Fischer  Germany 1:27,060 28 August 1988 Inzell (Germany)
1500 Marisa Canafoglia  Italy 2:14,644 27 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
2000 Nicola Malmstrom  Germany 3:02,025 28 August 1988 Inzell (Germany)
3000 Marisa Canafoglia  Italy 4:38,464 29 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
5000 Marisa Canafoglia  Italy 7:48,508 30 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
10000 Marisa Canafoglia  Italy 15:58,022 30 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
15000 Laura Lardani  Italy 23:47,549 19 September 2009 Haining (China)
20000 Annie Lambrechts  Belgium 32:53,970 28 June 1985 Leuven (Belgium)
30000 Annie Lambrechts  Belgium 49:15,906 28 June 1985 Leuven (Belgium)
50000 Annie Lambrechts  Belgium 1:21,26,942 28 June 1985 Leuven (Belgium)
100000 Helle Carlsen  Denmark 3:31:58 September 1998 New York (USA)
Updated May 2009

Road[edit]

Male
Distance (m) Skater Time Date Place
200 Joseba Fernandez  Spain 15.879 12 September 2012 S. Benedetto Tronto (Italy)
300 Andres Felipe Muñoz  Colombia 23,628 21 March 2010 Gijon(Spain)
500 Joey Mantia  United States 38,660 7 September 2006 Anyang (Korea)
1000 Ippolito Sanfratello  Italy 1:17,757 17 June 1999 Padua (Italy)
1500 Chad Hedrick  United States 1:57,698 17 June 1999 Padua (Italy)
2000 Derek Downing  United States 2:40,658 17 June 1999 Padua (Italy)
3000 Fabio Marangoni  Italy 4:18,379 17 June 1999 Padua (Italy)
5000 Arnaud Gicquel  France 6:43,900 30 July 2003 Padua (Italy)
10000 Joey Mantia  United States 13:46,801 6 September 2006 (Korea)
15000 Chad Hedrick  United States 22:11,960 2 August 2000 Barrancabermeja (Colombia)
20000 Joey Mantia  United States 29:01,955 7 September 2006 Anyang (Korea)
30000 Derek Downing  United States 48:42,179 28 August 1997 Road Rash Nationals (USA)
42195 (marathon) Bart Swings  Belgium 58:10 --- 27 September 2014 Berlin (Germany)
50000 Maurizio Lollobrigida  Italy 1:21:29,102 28 August 1997 Grenoble (France)
84390 Luca Presti  Italy 2:14:37,000 3 November 1999 Santiago (Chile)
Updated September 2014
Female
Distance (m) Skater Time Date Place
200 Moya Maria Jose  Chile 17,74 12 September 2012 S.Benedetto Tronto (Italy)
300 Andrea González  Argentina 26,791 26 July 1999 Winnipeg (Canada)
500 Jennifer Caicedo  Colombia 43,478 7 September 2006 Anyang (Korea)
1000 Marisa Canafoglia  Italy 1:28,014 28 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
1500 Marisa Canafoglia  Italy 2:14,122 28 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
2000 Luz Mery Tristán  Colombia 3:07,040 12 November 1990 Bello (Colombia)
3000 Francesca Monteverde  Italy 4:55,506 29 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
5000 Simona Di Eugenio  Italy 7:40,530 30 July 2003 Padua (Italy)
10000 S. Posada  Argentina 15:25.164 9 June 2006 Anyang (Korea)
15000 Sheila Herrero  Spain 24:57,820 2 August 2000 Barrancabermeja (Colombia)
20000 Seul Lee  South Korea 31.58.007 9 September 2008 Gijon (Spain)
21097 (1/2 marathon) Adelia Marra  Italy 35:02,930 28 August 1987 Pamplona (Spain)
30000 Marisa Canafoglia  Italy 52:38,640 28 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
40000 Sheila Herrero  Spain 1:18:01,000 3 October 1999 Santiago (Chile)
42195 (marathon) Manon Kamminga  Netherlands 1:09:58 --- 28 September 2013 Berlin (Germany)
50000 Marisa Canafoglia  Italy 1:28:16,852 28 August 1987 Grenoble (France)
Updated September 2013

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]