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Old December 31st, 2009, 02:43 AM   #1
inlina's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 926
Default 30 Years of Skating

Given it is New Years Eve, I was having a bit of a think about 2009 and I realised I have been skating for 30 years. I have some good and bad memories of skating over the years, so I thought I would share a few.

I started out as a toddler back in '79 when I was 2yo, learning from my parents who were both keen skaters and coaches and had Australian National Championships to their name in dance. My dad had also been a speed skater and played a bit of hardball hockey. Mum was once crowned National skating queen and the Australian Championships.

They bought a rink in 1982 and we moved some 1700km from Brisbane to Melbourne. I was guided into artistic skating at first and then speed skating. I really hated artistic and enjoyed speed skating but I just wasn't as strong or fast as those in my age group and only ever managed a few third places in my juvenile days.

What I really enjoyed was hockey and at about 10 or 11 I was eventually allowed to play hardball hockey in an inter-rink league against seniors (don't know how I was allowed to do that). From then on all I really wanted to do was play hockey, but all my parents wanted me to do was artistic.

At around 13 I got out of artistic skating by being diagnosed with Osgood Schlatter syndrome (whether I actually had it I am not sure of, but it kept our physio's family fed for about 6 months with all the visits to his practice). I kept speed skating but the demise of the inter-rink hockey comp meant no more competitive hockey for me. Since my club didn't have a junior team in the state league there was no more hardball hockey for me. Although I was named on the state junior team one year as an injury sub, but I was the youngest on the team sheet by a couple of years as was never needed.

I dabbled in a little inline speed skating in the early 90's after I got a pair of my brother’s hand-me-down speed skates, but I was never really much good at it and didn't have the drive. The inline speed skates spent more of their time session skating and behind an inline hockey stick which became my new passion for the time being. In 1992 we were on the verge of entering some junior teams in the new state inline hockey league when my parents were forced to close the rink and my dream of playing league inline hockey died.

I also had one eye on the up and coming sport of aggressive skating and wanted to give that a go. In 1994 I saved up some money and bought my first pair of 4 wheel rec skates, Roces LAXs. These served as aggressive and hockey skates for a few years including my first serious inline hockey games for the Australian University Champs in '96 and my first season a real league hockey in '97. I started out playing in a league team with mainly people from my uni in '97 called The Ducks (formerly the Phantoms) and was put straight into B-grade mainly because I could skate backwards well and therefore play defence. For my second season we all moved across to the new Northern Stars club and I got my first and only pair of proper hockey skates, Tour TR9000's.

I also become president of our university skate club for a year, mainly because I was the first sucker they could convince to do it. The mainly involved putting skates on and drinking (pub skates, BBQs etc) but we also did some other activities like ramp nights and city skates. The big Melbourne City skates were some of the most fun I have had on skates. I learnt to ride and eventually gap the State Library stairs on them as well as soul grind and front side grind. Our club ramp nights were also great. A bunch of uni students that were anywhere from beginner and advanced aggro skaters all pushing each other and learning from each other.

I also met my partner of now ten years on a pub skate and haven't looked back (probably should marry her one day). It turned out she also played in the same hockey league in C-grade.

The university also partly subsidised our hockey club membership and training costs which meant although I was a poor uni student, I could at least play hockey. After about 5 seasons of B-grade hockey and captaining my team to one loss-less season and a B-grade championship (both not in the same season though), I managed to get my skills up to play A-grade for a few seasons and even captain the team for a season. I was working towards a shot at getting on a Victorian pro-league team roster, but my focus went elsewhere and I dropped out of league hockey. I loved hockey but it was becoming too much for me work my way through uni and play hockey so eventually the money aspect won. I almost stopped skating all together but still got the old Roces out for some cruising and aggressive skating.

After my daughter was born, I finally finished my Mech Eng degree and got a real job. At that point I decided I wanted to go back to playing hockey and found a new club. My partner also came back to play and we both played C-grade, with my intent to use it to get some fitness back and go back to B-grade in my second season back. I was top goal scorer for my new team and I tried not to be a puck hog, but apparently I was seen that way. By the end of the season I felt I was ready to go to B-grade when the club's B-grade team crumbled and was left with only an A and C grade team. There was no way I could play A's again, so I prepared for another C-grade season. The 'coach' made his wife captain and put me into a defensive play maker role of which frustrated me immensely. I played one game in the new season and then dropped out of hockey again. I have hardly picked up a stick since which saddens me somewhat as I still love inline hockey.

While I was playing league hockey for the second time, I also bought my first real pair of aggressive skates, Roces Graals (the one with the stupid zipper lace cover). I also bought some Rollerblade Broskows for my partner (remember when Alex Broskow made RB a serious aggro skate contender for a brief moment!). We spent a bit of time travelling around to skate parks with my partner and some friends tagged along at times but I never really had the time to commit to it. My partner was also racing downhill mountain bike and I was involved in the MTB club, so my time was somewhat drained.

After a while, I bit the bullet and bought my daughter a pair of skates for he third birthday and we became almost exclusively session skaters for a time. I also went out and bought top of the line Salomon FSK S-Labs for me and my partner to cruise outdoors and have some fun on in the city. To date, those skates are the best I have ever tried. I still love getting out on them when I can. I got back onto the Melbourne city skate a few times, but the 5-10 skaters that were involved was nothing compared to the days of 200+ skaters back in the 90's.

Since around 2006 I have not been skating a whole lot. I take my daughter to the rink or park path occasionally, but we have all taken up racing BMX and she spends 4-5 days a week training and racing not leaving a lot of time to spend skating.

However for my next 30 years of skating, I want to ramp up again. I moved house a few months ago, and I now have access to a skateable network of paths just down the road, and one path leads to a small skatepark less than 2kms away. The local rink is also right near the skatepark. I would also like to get back into hockey again. I hear there is a 'beer' league and a masters league at the rink one of my teams was based out of. Hopefully I will also get the chance to skate at least one other major city skate somewhere else in the world…Paris, London, New York and San Francisco are the cities I want to skate. Maybe Shanghai, Beijing or Taipei would be cool too since they are a little closer to home and up-and-coming in the skate scene.
Mission Inhlaer DS1 & Axiom T8, Salomon FSK S-Labs, Roces Graals, RB Coyotes
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