Roller skating: not just for the ‘80s


Written by: Marissa L. Barrett

Artistic roller skating has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. Therefore, I do not find this sport to be out of the ordinary, nor uncommon.

I find it interesting that nine times out of 10 I am met with confusion when I tell people that I roller skate.

Apparently, artistic roller skating is more unique than I had ever thought it would be. I am an artistic competitive roller skater.

To clear up the misconception right off the bat, I do not skate around with an Afro and leggings to ‘80s music; I do not skate down ramps and across pipes at skate parks.

And I do not skate around in a circle, slamming into other skaters and trying to knock them down in a “pit of rage.” All of which are responses I get when I tell people I roller skate.

Although these assumptions sound intriguing and entertaining, the helmet, disco ball, and alter ego must be saved for Halloween.

So, what type of roller skating do I do? The most efficient way to explain to people what I do is to show them a picture or video.

Although this would be ideal, when I meet someone for the first time, the chances of me having a video or picture stashed away in a pocket or purse are slim to none.

The next-best solution when explaining what I 
do is to compare roller skating to a more recognized sport.

“Roller skating is like artistic ice skating — just on wheels,” I tell people. I do not use inline skates, or roller blades, as the civilians 
call them.

I skate on quad roller skates, similar to the skates one would associate with the ‘80s, minus the hot pink wheels.

Similar to ice skating, artistic roller skating has many aspects including freestyle (jumping and spinning) and dancing (tango, waltz, blues and so on). Artistic roller skating has its own little community

There are local, regional, national and even world competitions, all dedicated to the sport of artistic roller  skating. Who would have thought, right?

How does one come upon the sport of roller skating when it is obviously  something most people have never heard of? For me, my dad was heavily  involved in the sport. He was an athlete, a coach and a competitive judge.

Needless to say, I did not have the option to have roller skating in my life or not. There was no choosing. This sport was embedded in my soul 
the second I came into 
this world.

I had never been a girly girl; however, when it came to roller skating, I had absolutely no problem wearing sparkling dresses and bright red lipstick.

Oh, and the hair spray: You can never have enough. Yes, competitive roller skating is a lot of fun, but it also requires a ton of hard work and dedication. My hard work paid off when I won my first national gold medal and traveled to Germany to compete at the world roller skating championships.

Unfortunately, my skating career has come to an end. However, I am focusing on my educational future at The University of Akron.

Although I do not have much time to devote to roller skating, it is something that I could never fully disregard. My skates are still one of my most prized possessions.

I often wonder how a sport that has been around for more than several hundred years is unfamiliar to so many people.

Unlike ice skating, free skating and roller derby, artistic roller skating suffers from a lack of exposure.

Educating others about the sport of artistic roller skating is essential to its survival.

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