- At the Bastille, the Trocadero, on the
Quays... But also in Lyon, Lille Strasbourg or Marseille, the
addicted to roller skating are everywhere in the streets. The
metro, the scooter are over, the 'In-Line' are the top to move
around in the city and have fun with your friends.
- Text and pictures Jean-François
- Some Parisian have discovered
roller skating during the strikes of the SNCF in December 95
; others by admiring the acrobatic competitions of the Vittel
Rollerblade in the Palais Omnisport de Bercy... But the sliders
have been aware of the in-line since the beginning of the 90s
and many of them have chosen them to practice , to let off stream
or to go out. In-line rollers can be used for anything, to go
for a slide with friends, to frighten yourself with 3-metre-
jumps, to play Street Hockey, to practice speed or to take care
of your younger brother on Wednesday afternoons... thanks to
recent technical innovations, they are now very easy to use everyday,
to go to school for instance -as far as you have some shoes in
your backpack- Contrary to skateboarding, or surfing, roller
skating is very easy.
- Therefore, you can do it in
family. The great gathering of 'Rennes on Wheels' which has been
happening each year by the end of September for nine years now,
really pictures this conviviality with more than 3500 participants
who came to join a trekking and watch the demonstrations of the
- In France, between 400,000 and
600,000 rollers are sold per year, a figure which increases but
is nothing when compared to the 12 or 13 millions sold in the
united states per year, the birth country of the rollers. The
French market is composed by a half sold in supermarkets (between
300F and 1000F), some of them being nothing but toys, and by
another half in specialised shops such as Hawaii-Surf or vertical
which sell high-range rollers (between 1000F and 2000F) to expert
- Technical innovations made for
skiing shoes help improving the in-lines, like articulated shoes
for the ankles, comfortable slippers made of artificial moss...
Guess which group is b hiding behind the label Rollerblade ?
Benetton and its skiing shoes Nordika. Be careful not to be confused
between the name of the sport and Rollerblade which is a label.
The professionals say 'in-line' and they call themselves 'riders'
and never 'skaters' which is old-fashioned...
- Therefore, in order to ride
like a pro, two or three pieces of advice and some hours of practice
are enough. You must invest a minimum of 1000F in your rollers
-but there's no use in buying 3000 franc-rollers- and don't forget
the knee-pads (between 100F and 300F), the gloves and may be
a helmet for the children. You can start by renting the equipment.
The balance when you are not slipping is not that hard ; don't
- To move, stay on one foot and
use the other one to push, it rolls... To stop : bend your knees
and put one leg forward until the brake touches the ground. Easy
! The great riders use other ways and remove the brake. For the
curves, you just have to turn your body in the direction you
want to use, it turns ! Later on, you will learn how to cross
your legs like pros. To jump, you just have to faster and push.
The impulsion decides of the direction, and of the landing. For
the free-style, you'll have to wait a bit...
- When you will no longer be a
beginner, you will just have to choose your own style. The most
frequent is 'fitness', very efficient to loose weight before
summer. For this style, what counts is comfort, a fast dressing
and security. The roller skates have a good brake and gaps for
the aerage to provide for a maximum comfort !
- The look of the equipment is
important too ! Some have five-wheel rollers for speed and long
distances. In this case, the look is quite near to the Tour de
France on bicycles : aerodynamics and fluorescent colours...
Those are only 6 or 7% of the participants. If you like team-plays,
try the Street Hockey, a transposition of ice Hockey, a practice
which is increasing. The rollers here usually have a brake and
laces instead of hooks.
- Finally, if you are not afraid
of being hurt, try acrobatic disciplines, such as 'ramp skating'
or (street'. The riders can find areas equipped with banisters,
obstacles and they can practice figures. The rollers have laces
and the two middle wheels are smaller in order to take advantage
of every urban obstacle ? In ramp competitions, they have 1 minute,
and are evaluated on their general style, their amplitude and
their figures. A good ramp is a kind of half tube of 3m50 high,
with a vertical area of 30cm and a flat one of 4 to 5m. the rollers
have four equal-sized wheels. Like every new sports born in the
United States, there is a very specific language. A 'trick' is
only a figure ! A 'grap' is to hold a foot in your hands during
a jump and this figure, for instance, can be a 180° grap
or a 360° one, the difference concerning the rotation during
- And what about a 'mute air',
a 'late', a 'grind', a 'mizu grind' ...? In such a discipline,
not only the risks but also the style are taken into account
: a trash looking and a hard-core music id the rule ! But don't
panic, the roller remains a simple and intuitive activity like
all the other sports where you have to slip. It would be a pity
not to try !
Four Ways of Braking !
- With the brake : at the back of most of the skates, there
is a more or less sophisticated brake. You have to tighten your
leg forward and to bend the other one. It is the beginners' braking
Snowplough : like when skiing, you bring the end of your
feet closer to make the rollers skid. You must avoid to block
the rollers and therefore alternatively raise your feet. This
one operates only with a small speed...
T-braking : good riders usually get rid of the brakes.
In order to brake they drag a roller behind them. It makes you
look like a pro.
Skidding :It's the spectacular and really efficient way
of braking of the Hockey players. You must throw a leg before
you and crosswise. It's easier to say it than to do it, but it's
the only way to stop dead.
- © Jean François
VIBERT - Journalist and photographer - Paris -
- Specialised in travels, extrems
sports, leisure activities, adventure trips, outdoor sports,
deserts and mountains... Trekking, ski, snowboard, mountain,
bike, sailing, scuba diving, hiking, in line skating... Texts
and pictures for the press and the web, illustration, digital
- Journaliste photographe - Spécialiste
des voyages, des sports de glisse, des loisirs, de l'aventure,
de l'outdoor, des déserts, des montagnes. VTT, trekking,
ski, snowboard, parapente, voile, plongée sous marine,
randonnées, roller in line... Textes et photos pour la
presse et internet, illustrations, photographie numérique,