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Roller skates are devices worn on the feet to enable the wearer to roll along on wheels. A first basic type of roller skate consists of a boot with four wheels with ball bearings, arranged in the same configuration as the wheels of a typical car.
The first patented roller skate was introduced in 1760. The inventor was a Belgian named John Joseph Merlin. His invention did not become very popular. The initial "test pilot" of the first prototype of the skate was in the city of Huy, which had a party with Merlin playing the violin.
In 1863, James Plimpton from Massachusetts invented the "rocking" skate. This was an improvement on the roller skate that allowed skaters to turn easily around corners. This invention opened the door for the masses to enjoy roller skating.
Eventually, roller skating evolved from just a pastime to a competitive sport, beginning with roller hockey. This sport became so popular that it even made an appearance in the Olympics in 1992. Roller Skating was considered as an event at the 2012 Summer Olympics . The National Sporting Goods Association statistics showed, from a 1999 study, that 2.5 million people played roller hockey. Other roller skating sports include speed skating, figure skating, jam skating and roller derby. Roller skating popularity exploded during the disco era but tapered off in the 80s and 90s.
The Roller Skating Rink Operators Association was developed in the United States in 1937. It is currently named the Roller Skating Association. The association promotes roller skating and offers classes to the public, aiming to educate the population about roller skating. The current President is Bobby Pender. The Roller Skating Association headquarters is located in Indianapolis.
There are several types of roller skates, and among them: traditional quad skates, in-line skates (like Rollerblades), non conventional skates (like Trisskate).
The Roller Skating Association’s web page offers some health benefits of roller skating. Some of these benefits include providing a complete aerobic workout and burning 350 calories per hour while skating 6 miles per hour or 600 calories while skating 10 miles per hour. In the 1980s rollerskating as aerobic exercise flourished briefly. Marnie Bjornson's 1988 exercise video "Roller Burn" combined rollerskating with Tai Chi moves. Roller skating is equivalent to jogging in terms of health benefits. The American Heart Association recommends roller skating as an aerobic fitness sport.
Roller skating has become such a popular pastime that there are museums dedicated to its history. The National Museum of Roller Skating in Lincoln, Nebraska claims to own the largest collection of historical roller skates in the world, together with pictures, medals, films, costumes, etc. that have significance. It also hosts a large library of roller skating books and has video clips of highlights from roller skating competitions. Donations of anything that reflects “the history of roller skating on a local, regional, national, and international level” are encouraged.
The song "Brand New Key" by Melanie Safka features the lyrics "I got a brand new pair of roller skates".
In Madonna's "Sorry" video she uses roller skates. A more recent example is in Jessica Simpson's music video for her song “A Public Affair”, starring Simpson, Christina Applegate, Eva Longoria, Christina Milian, Andy Dick and Ryan Seacrest, and a skating dance crew named Breaksk8.
In 2003, the band known as The Penfifteen Club released their single "Ms.Hilton" which has a reference to roller skates in the song "roller skates on a social butterfly".
Miss'ile, founded in 2005 and directed by choreographer/performer Cecile Klaus, is a female skate dance company that has appeared at the Paris Slalom World Cup and in various shows, commercials and music videos. Based in France, the Miss'iles have a sport team for inline skate competitions (downhill, speed, skate cross, cones) and an artistic team for inline/quad skate shows (cones, high-jump, skate dance).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Roller skates|
- Roller Skating History of the United States
- "How Ring Rollers Are Made", by George W. Waltz – November 1951 article on how roller skates are manufactured
- Court Case Brought by Roller Skating Rings About Taxes
- History of Roller Skating In Canada
- Roller Skating International homepage
- homepage for USA Roller Sports
- Roller Skating Museum
- All Star Skates
- Real Skate Stories