Pop by East Coast Park any day of the week and you are bound to find inline skaters everywhere you turn. From the absolute beginner tottering around dangerously to the accomplished speed skater whizzing by in a flash, inline skating has gown to become arguably one of the most popular sports in Singapore.
Origins of inline skating
While most believe the inline skate to be a trendier evolution of its predecessor, the roller skate, the reverse is true. Inline skates were first developed following the popularity of ice-skates in Northern Europe, and were designed to allow for similar travel in warmer weather.
The first documented inline skate was invented by John Joseph Merlin in 1760. Merlin was a Belgian musical instrument maker who fashioned a pair of skates with a single line of metal wheels and wore them to a masquerade party, hoping to some garner publicity for his invention. Unfortunately, the inventor neglected to add brakes to his newest creation and was believed to have crashed spectacularly at the party.
Over the next century, many different types of roller skates were designed and patented, all featuring four to five wheels arranged in a straight line at the bottom of a shoe or boot. However, these skates all faced the same problem – they lacked manoeuvrability and were unable to follow a curved path.
A breakthrough came in 1863, when American James Plimpton designed the first quad skate. Featuring two parallel sets of wheels, one under the ball of the foot and one under the heel, this new invention allowed for turns and easy manoeuvrability, thus giving birth to the modern four-wheeled roller skates.
Once quad skates burst onto the scene, inline skates were relegated to the background of roller sports, long forgotten until they re-emerged in the 1980s, thanks to Americans Scott and Brennan Olsen.
Having stumbled upon an old pair of inline skates made in the 1960s, the Olsen brothers originally intended for their revamped skates to be used by ice hockey players during training, eliminating the need for an ice rink. Soon after, Scott Olsen founded the company Rollerblade Inc, whose popularity led to the term ‘rollerblading’ being coined and used, instead of the accurate term ‘inline skating’.
I want to be an inline skater
The best place to start your journey into the dynamic world of inline skating would be at East Coast Park, as there are a number of schools offering lessons there. If you are a complete beginner, it is advisable to take formal lessons rather than trying to pick up the sport on your own.
“Inline skating is more difficult than riding a bicycle, so new skaters should ideally take lessons to avoid injuries,” explains Edmund Vong, director of marketing at Skateline.
Schools here usually offer both private and group lessons so you can learn the sport at your own pace or have fun with a bunch of friends. As with all sports, practice makes perfect so put on your skates and hit the pavements – so to speak – as often as you can.
Where do I sign up?
Pick up the important basics of inline skating at these schools and unleash your inner speed skater!
1018 East Coast Parkway, #01-01E, located at Carpark C, near Burger King and Carpark C3, Tel: 6243 1912
902 East Coast Parkway, Playground@BigSplash, #01-23, Tel: 6345 2455