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Speed Skating Forum Most of the discussions in this forum will be about inline speed skating but discussions about ice speed skating and quad roller speed skating are also welcome.

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Old March 21st, 2014, 06:10 AM   #21
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Slowsk8, I should have put into better words my generalized comment when saying Speed Skating is a dying sport. What I should have said is that the overall community is seeing a smaller amount of competitors. Each rink and area may have reasons that vary from one another. Your area of the country seems to be an outlier in my general statement, and to be honest I am jealous.

I know for my state (Wisconsin) when I started skating competitively in roughly 2000, we had 4-5 teams that had several skaters compete at a national level. As well we held state meets every month at different rinks. By 2005 everything had died out in Wisconsin and a good part of Illinois and we had one team left called team WIN which was a joint effort by all of the Wisconsin and Illinois teams to have a noticeable showing at indoor nationals, even with the multiple rink team we had less skaters than a single rink team did years prior.

Clearly this isn't the same case for everyone, but as a whole attendance is down. There are tons of theories as to why. One big part that i feel is a bit untouched still is the image skating has been given. Skating is made out as a past trend. Once kids hit their teenage years they are made fun of in school for not being in a "real" sport like basketball or football. I know I was made fun of for it then and so are many of my skaters. That clearly isn't the number one reason for the downfall, but just one more thing to add to the list.

My area is in a full blown rebuilding stage, we have four rinks all with several new skaters holding "practice" meets every month or so to give all these first timers the experience and hopefully one day bring back the competition that was once lively in our area. I am in high hopes that this path is going in the right direction.
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Old March 21st, 2014, 09:31 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by slowsk8 View Post
no government funding?
I was talking about local inline (or quad) teams.
Sorry misread, still no funding though
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Old March 21st, 2014, 06:09 PM   #23
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...Skating is made out as a past trend. Once kids hit their teenage years they are made fun of in school for not being in a "real" sport like basketball or football. I know I was made fun of for it then and so are many of my skaters...
Interesting. All through school I was pretty much the nerdiest of the nerdiest, but my skating was about the only thing I wasn't made fun of for.
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Old March 23rd, 2014, 01:43 AM   #24
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Actually, My daughter is pretty popular at school for skating... LOL (11 year old)

She skates 5-6 sessions a week here a the local rink + does practices 3 times (2 hours each).

She is a rookie skater. Here she is in her Uniform.

I think Skaterdog met her last year when Mort visited his rink in Saginaw.

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Old March 23rd, 2014, 07:43 PM   #25
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Clearly this isn't the same case for everyone, but as a whole attendance is down. There are tons of theories as to why. One big part that i feel is a bit untouched still is the image skating has been given. Skating is made out as a past trend. Once kids hit their teenage years they are made fun of in school for not being in a "real" sport like basketball or football. I know I was made fun of for it then and so are many of my skaters. That clearly isn't the number one reason for the downfall, but just one more thing to add to the list.
I wonder if for some sports, the 'barrier to entry' is just to high. I.e. the only new people entering the sport are the kids of parents who are/were active in the sport.

Some sports are easy to do recreationally. Just sign up for a running event. Or play are bit of tennis every once in a while. Whereas for other sports it is way harder for people to join.

If such a sport is in decline I always wonder whether the sport should add alternative competitions that are more accessible.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 07:31 PM   #26
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I wonder if for some sports, the 'barrier to entry' is just to high. I.e. the only new people entering the sport are the kids of parents who are/were active in the sport.

Some sports are easy to do recreationally. Just sign up for a running event. Or play are bit of tennis every once in a while. Whereas for other sports it is way harder for people to join.

If such a sport is in decline I always wonder whether the sport should add alternative competitions that are more accessible.
I think you hit on a good point. In addition, I think having a beginner team helps getting over one of the barriers though. I look at our practices much more welcoming for new comers. Half of our skaters are still learning the most basic of things on their skates.

I actually had an lady come in two days ago for practice, she had moved here from Georgia. She told me how she had bought speed skates and tried going to a practice there but with all the pros and the very intense practice, she felt very out of place. Obviously this is not intentional by any team its the simple fact that a team that is the full swing of things with pro skaters pushing their limits each practice and I would argue its a little bit less welcoming for new comers to the sport.

As far as alternative competition that are more accessible, I'm curious what you mean?
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Old March 24th, 2014, 07:48 PM   #27
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I'll be honest, I'm actually looking forward to start my our trek into this sport. It's just something that I decided I wanted to do after digging around and doing some research. I'm going to assume that the Georgia group mentioned is likely the one I'll be with. I did practically fall over when I found out more about the people who head it up.. and then wondered what I was getting myself into. However, truth is, I look forward to it even more now. I know I'm pretty much going to have gotten in over my head, but that's what makes it fun to me and it's what'll keep me pushing. Pretty much it'll be like what happened after I first ran the 3200m in HS after being lapped by one of the guys on the other team (they ran guys and girls race for it concurrently). I was so annoyed with myself that I told him he'd never beat me again. He finally ran the event again my Senior year.. and yeah.. I help up my promise. In short I like the challenge
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Old March 24th, 2014, 08:45 PM   #28
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As far as alternative competition that are more accessible, I'm curious what you mean?
In the local Friday night skate (in Amsterdam) when conditions permit, the tour leader releases the participants for a race. Lots of people who don't participate in any organized races, join in.

So I'm more thinking of having a race on an empty parking lot or something, where everybody can join in. Just a simple out and back course.

Have such a race say once a month during summer. Maybe have other groups, like slalom there as well. To spread the general concept of fun on skates.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 09:27 PM   #29
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In the local Friday night skate (in Amsterdam) when conditions permit, the tour leader releases the participants for a race. Lots of people who don't participate in any organized races, join in.

So I'm more thinking of having a race on an empty parking lot or something, where everybody can join in. Just a simple out and back course.

Have such a race say once a month during summer. Maybe have other groups, like slalom there as well. To spread the general concept of fun on skates.
How is it funded? There is little funding for events here. In addition in the USA has many more indoor competitions than outdoor competitions. Outdoors requires roads, which means we need cooperation with cities to use their roads. In general it is easier to setup indoor meets than outdoor meets, at least in my area. If there was some sort of funding I could see outdoors being the way to go, at least that is when there isnt snow on the ground. Unfortunately where I live it seems 6 months out of the year we are unable to be outdoors due to the weather.
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Old March 25th, 2014, 02:58 AM   #30
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I know that Korea and Japan have school based Short-Track Ice teams. And this is one way they keep their numbers so large.
Taiwan also have a lot of members. But inline doesn't have to compete against football, soccer, baseball (etc.) over there as they're not very popular.
They also have a racing division for skaters in 'plastic' skates. So skaters can be introduced to speed skating at a very young not be thrown in "the deep end" right away. Which encourages them to participate longer.

But in western countries, we have access to a HUGE range of sports. Which are incredibly popular. And strapping on a pair of football boots is much cheaper than buying all of the required equipment to start being a competitive skater.

Kids (and some adults) are also discouraged when their improvement is quite slow. When they don't get their desired results in a short-period of time, they lose interest.

In Australia, a lot of people have the "Can't someone else do it?" attitude. This has lead to our numbers being extremely low. We have a few passionate skate enthusiasts that have saved the sport from collapsing completely.
We all just need to work super hard to try and retain and grow membership in our respective clubs. Promoting at schools, in local news papers, etc. I think the NSC is an amazing way to promote the sport to the public.

It's such a great sport and relatively easy to promote. The first thing new skaters want to do, when they step onto a skating rink, is skate fast. A lot of the promotion that's done at my club is done at public sessions.
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Old April 4th, 2014, 07:35 PM   #31
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Powerslide has taken an interesting approach on this issue. They are developing a line of skates and a clinic training program to broaden the scope of potential skaters. They currently have a new high-cuff rec-style boot for marathon and a skate called the Endurance which serves as a rec-skate step up to a 100mm frame. Scott Aldridge is also doing some tutorial videos on technique. They are basically trying to make potential speed skaters out of rec skaters.

http://powerskating.powerslide.com
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Old April 4th, 2014, 10:44 PM   #32
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Powerslide has taken an interesting approach on this issue. [...] They are basically trying to make potential speed skaters out of rec skaters.

http://powerskating.powerslide.com
One thing I recently read in a Dutch newspaper might be relevant for this discussion. Researchers found that in the Netherlands, the number of people doing sports grew in the past few years. However, the number of people playing team sports declined with a few exceptions (for example, women playing soccer).

In general, people don't want to commit. They just want to go sporting whenever they feel like it.
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Old April 5th, 2014, 02:29 AM   #33
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The numbers are in decline. Look at the outdoor races that are no longer. The TX Road Rash is gone. There isn't one outdoor race in AZ and only a few left in CA. On the West Coast the sport is dying fast. The numbers on the indoor teams are down. Time, commitment and difficulty of the sport. The Parents aren't into it and many skate rinks are going bankrupt and selling the land.

One big issue I see here out West is, if you're not on a team you can't race indoor. The indoor races are closed events, no skaters unless you're on a team. That is cutting the throat of the sport in my opinion, they need to open the races to all comers. Have them pay and sign the waiver but allow anyone to race. This is killing the indoor sport in my opinion.


Team commitment is big, if a rink is one hour away practice from 7PM to 9PM and the coach says you must be there at practice three times per week. Few if any parents are willing to make that commitment to drive their kid to practice. Rink owners don't care and the coaches don't know how to promote their sport.

All teams should promote within their community by holding open races, 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathons outdoor and indoor. In AZ there are hundreds of bike races, hundreds of running races, not one skate race.

The people I skate with are all 50 and older. There is a group of 5 to 6, in the Phoenix, AZ region, I have ran adds to find skaters willing to join us for our workouts, no takers in the sixth largest region in the country.

On the West Coast the sport is dying. The effort at the National level is missing also. I have never seen anything promoting inline speed skating.

Just my opinion but if I was at the National level leading the show, I'd guarantee people knew about inline speed skating.
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Old April 5th, 2014, 03:38 AM   #34
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Quote:
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The numbers on the indoor teams are down. Time, commitment and difficulty of the sport.
Did you see the photo at the top of page 1?
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The Parents aren't into it and many skate rinks are going bankrupt and selling the land.
Take another look at the photo, the adults are all parents that followed their kids in.
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One big issue I see here out West is, if you're not on a team you can't race indoor. The indoor races are closed events, no skaters unless you're on a team.
You need not be on a team, you can race "unattached" You do need to get a USARS "card" The card gives you some insurance, as well as protecting USARS and helping them make sure you are racing in the right age class.
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the coach says you must be there at practice three times per week. Few if any parents are willing to make that commitment to drive their kid to practice. Rink owners don't care and the coaches don't know how to promote their sport.
This may be the case with some teams and is one of my points on how to build a large team. We don't "require" anyone to make any number of practices, more is better but we know people have a life. If they want to pay the dues and not show up that still supports the team.
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All teams should promote within their community by holding open races, 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathons outdoor and indoor. In AZ there are hundreds of bike races, hundreds of running races, not one skate race.
This would be nice but the permitting and insurance makes it tough to do. Without being sure you would get enough skaters.
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On the West Coast the sport is dying. The effort at the National level is missing also. I have never seen anything promoting inline speed skating.

Just my opinion but if I was at the National level leading the show, I'd guarantee people knew about inline speed skating.
NSC is trying, do you watch? Maybe order a T-shirt?
The closing of rinks is a problem, notably in California. That has much to do with land values.
And yes the biggest teams are the ones that get the best support from the rink owners.
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Old April 5th, 2014, 03:54 AM   #35
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Did you see the photo at the top of page 1?
Take another look at the photo, the adults are all parents that followed their kids in.

You need not be on a team, you can race "unattached" You do need to get a USARS "card" The card gives you some insurance, as well as protecting USARS and helping them make sure you are racing in the right age class.

This may be the case with some teams and is one of my points on how to build a large team. We don't "require" anyone to make any number of practices, more is better but we know people have a life. If they want to pay the dues and not show up that still supports the team.

This would be nice but the permitting and insurance makes it tough to do. Without being sure you would get enough skaters.

NSC is trying, do you watch? Maybe order a T-shirt?
The closing of rinks is a problem, notably in California. That has much to do with land values.
And yes the biggest teams are the ones that get the best support from the rink owners.
Right, nice photo. As you stated there are pockets where the sport is doing well.

The West Coast will not allow unattached skaters to race. Even if you have a USARS card the West Coast league rules state "No Unattached Skaters" can race. This rule is strictly enforced.

NCS, yes, enjoy watching but even they may have less than 100 spectators at their races.

I hope the sport survives. If the current trend continues in ten years there will only be a few States left with the numbers of skaters to support teams.

Spoke with a rink owner last week in an East Coast State filing BK. The rink doesn't even bring in but a couple of thousand per month. I asked about teams there, he said no interest.

In other countries the sport is thriving. My comments are what I see here on the West Coast. The numbers of skaters are way down.

So how do the bike races do it, dealing with insurance and such, there are several bike races every weekend.
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Old April 5th, 2014, 04:31 AM   #36
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Right, nice photo. As you stated there are pockets where the sport is doing well.

The West Coast will not allow unattached skaters to race. Even if you have a USARS card the West Coast league rules state "No Unattached Skaters" can race. This rule is strictly enforced.
You must mean Southwest.
I wonder if they are worried about someone avoiding team dues by skating Unattached?
Here in the North west we have at least two Unattached skaters. Think I race one next week.

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So how do the bike races do it, dealing with insurance and such, there are several bike races every weekend.
The bikes and bike racers have been around over 100 years longer. Much more time to build numbers and work every thing out. The first Tour de France had 60 or so riders.
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Old April 5th, 2014, 04:32 AM   #37
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One big issue I see here out West is, if you're not on a team you can't race indoor. The indoor races are closed events, no skaters unless you're on a team. That is cutting the throat of the sport in my opinion, they need to open the races to all comers. Have them pay and sign the waiver but allow anyone to race. This is killing the indoor sport in my opinion.
I'm assuming these are USARS meets. USARS insurance only covers skaters if everyone on the floor is carded. I'm pretty sure they use that as a negotiating point to keep the insurance rates down - everyone should have at least some training. If you let one uncarded person on the floor to race, suddenly no one on the floor is covered. That's not a risk any meet director would want to take, even if they wouldn't lose their meet director certification.

That said, you shouldn't need to be on a team. You can card as an independent skater. Even if you have to be carded with a team, surely there are teams around that will allow you to card with them.

Failing that, I believe the central region buys insurance per event directly from an insurance company, and none of their meets are technically USARS sanctioned. It's something worth exploring, but if too many regions go to that Nationals fees are going to go up to pay for the insurance, since USARS won't be getting their cut from league meets.

EDIT: I see you mentioned you have a special rule about unattached skaters. Odd.
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Old April 5th, 2014, 05:52 AM   #38
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The main point is to expand the sport. To grow a business you must break new ground, get out of your comfort zone doing things you're uncomfortable doing. Inline speedskating is stuck within a box with many old school people un willing to change and break new ground with new and exciting ideas.

Look at the new exciting games in the Winter Olympics. They were fun and exciting to watch. Inline speedskating must change, adapt or die, simple really. Without drastic changes this sport will fade away into a few small corners of the country.

Disagreeing with a few rules here and there is what I'm talking about. Not allowing anyone and everyone who wants to race is what I'm talking about. Throw the rules book out and bring new excitement to the sport. The sport is stuck and needs big changes.

Why do we think it didn't make it into the Olympics, simple, it's not exciting to non skaters, if it was crowds would come, but they don't.

USARS needs to change, they have done a horrible job at promoting and building all skating sports. How in the world did snow boarding get into the Olympics, it did and now it's exiting to watch.

Bottom line is the focus should be on expanding the sport by thinking big. Not believing a few rules changes or equipment upgrades will do the trick.

Changes must come from the top down and bottom up, the entire structure must adapt and change if this sport is to grow.
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Old April 5th, 2014, 08:08 PM   #39
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Concerning the NSC races, the last one I was at had probably 200 or so in attendance, maybe more. It's a very large building, so people were spread out, so it might not have looked packed, but there were a lot of people there. What you can't see on most of the videos is there's a balcony level around the whole building and there were a lot of people up there.

I'll be at the NSC races in Tacoma tonight, and it's looking to be pretty big.

There's been radio interviews, newspaper articles, and clinics from NSC skaters for local skaters. Olympic speed skaters come out and sometimes skate, sometimes run commentary.

They're running it in a neat old National Guard Armory building that happens to have a large wood floor. And when I say old, I mean over 100 years old. Maybe I've started to transition in to one of those historical building nuts, but I think it's a novel use of a cool old building. (Short video about the building back when the National Guard still "owned" it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7qYgEiCglI )

One of the radio stations will be doing the music and possibly doing some on-air stuff.

I'd say they're promoting the sport pretty well.

Newspaper article http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/0...t-april-5.html

NSC PreRace video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rii438JufV4
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Old April 6th, 2014, 02:47 PM   #40
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Discussing specific events, would be worthwhile to remember the new/expanded ones, including Las Vegas, the Tampa Classic outdoor, the expansion of Outdoor National to a separate meet for World Team Selection, the Wisconsin indoor races, the new events in Battle at Bear Creek, and NSC Pittsburgh.
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