Inline skates have 4 or 5 wheels and a modified ski boot for stability. They were invented in the 1980s, but rudimentary versions date back to 17th-century Holland. Rollerblade is a registered trademark and the pioneers of modern inline skates. Inline skates are similar to ice skating and have different wheels for different terrains. Beginners should use 4-wheel setups, and advanced skaters should use 5-wheel setups. Stops are achieved by turning the skates, running across grass, or using rubber stops.
Inline skates are roller skates that have 4 or 5 polyurethane wheels arranged straight. These wheels are often mounted under a modified rigid ski boot for greater stability. Inline skates are commonly referred to as “rollerblades,” but this is another example of a generic brand. Rollerblade is actually a registered trademark belonging to the Rollerblade company, considered to be the pioneers of modern inline skates.
Since modern inline skates didn’t appear until the 1980s, many people assume that the traditional quad-skate (four wheels in a two-by-two configuration) was invented first. In fact, rudimentary versions of inline skates can be found as far back as 17th-century Holland. As a summer coach, some Dutch skaters would attach wooden coils to the sole of their shoes in a line formation. These early inline skates, however, did not benefit from such modern conveniences as ball bearings, axles or brakes.
An inventor in the 1820s actually patented a form of inline skate called the Rolito, but it was largely ignored by the public. Meanwhile, the quad-skate would not see the light of day until at least 1863 and did not become popular until ball bearings, toe clips and a flexible axle were added in the 1880s. Inline skates continued to be used as athletic shoes for dedicated ice skaters, but have not been adopted by the general population in ice rinks.
In 1979, two brothers rummaged through a pile of old sports equipment and found a pair of inline skates, presumably from an ice skating training center. They replaced the wheels with modern ball-bearing polyurethane ones, then attached the assembly to a hard plastic ski boot. A few years later, their invention hit store shelves as the “Rollerblade” and became a sensation among the younger crowd. Early Rollerblade models didn’t come with a reliable braking system or a flex axle, but they did allow skaters to develop basic freestyle tricks.
Several other companies have since begun making inline skates, even replacing the stiff ski boot with a softer athletic shoe in some designs. Modern inline skates have brakes, various wheels for different terrains, and better protective gear for the users. Inline skates can be used in skating rinks or skateboard parks. Experts recommend that beginners use the four-wheel setup for better control. Five wheel inline skates are best for advanced skaters looking for more speed.
The basic technique for inline skating is very similar to ice skating. One skate is pointed forward while the skater pushes to the side with the other skate. As the momentum pushes the first skate forward, the other leg is momentarily held in the air. When the skater feels the forward motion slow down, the opposite skate is pointed forward and the leading skate becomes the pusher. Skaters alternate from one leg to the other, pushing off and then sliding. Stops are achieved by turning the skates at a sharp angle, running across a grassy area, grabbing a stationary object, or using the rubber stops on the skates themselves.