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Artistic roller skating

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brazilian skater Bruna Santos skates a free skating program
Brazilian skater Bruna Santos skates a free skating program

Artistic roller skating (sometimes called roller figure skating) is a group of roller skating events similar to figure skating on ice. The events are:

  • figures (similar to compulsory or "school" figures on ice)
  • dance (solo and team)
  • free skating (single and pairs)
  • precision (team skating, similar to synchronized skating on ice)

Skaters use either quad or inline skates, but quad and inline skaters usually compete in separate events and not against each other. Inline Figure Skating has been included at world championships since 2002 in Wuppertal, Germany.

The sport is very similar to ice figure skating, and there is some crossover between the two sports; ice skaters such as Tara Lipinski [1] and Marina Kielmann [2] competed in both. However, roller figure skating is often considered to be more difficult because the ice allows the skater to draw a deep, solid edge to push off from when performing jumps such as a lutz or an axel. On roller skates it is not possible to use the same kind of deep edge in that context, because it will confuse in the rotation, making it difficult to land properly.


Artistic skaters most commonly skate on traditional quad skates. Skates designed for artistic skating typically have leather boots, a strong, heavy sole plate, and a jump bar for reinforcement. For free skating, skaters usually use a large toe stop, which can be used in a "toe-plant" take-off or landing in certain jumps such as the Mapes or the flip. Dance and figure skaters generally do not use toe stops, as they may interfere with some maneuvers.

Some artistic skaters use inline skates. Skates designed for inline artistic skating have leather boots (as ice and quad figure skates do), and usually have rockered wheels and a toe stop or toe "pic". Rockered wheels (wheels which are arranged at different heights so that the baseline of the wheels forms a curve instead of a flat line) are more suitable to skate the curved "edges" which are typical of artistic skating than un-rockered inline wheels are.



In the figures discipline, skaters skate on figure circles painted on the skating surface. This is different from skaters of compulsory figures on ice, who skate on blank ice, and draw their own circles on the ice as they skate. The official dimension of plain figure circles, measured at their diameter along the long axis, is 6 meters (19 feet, 8-1/4 inches). The official dimension of loop figure circles measured similarly is 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10-1/2 inches). Circles are typically painted in "serpentines" -- sets of three circular lobes.

The basic figures skated are the same as those skated by ice skaters, ranging from simple circle eights through serpentines (figures that include three lobes), paragraphs (figures skated entirely on one foot), and loops (smaller circles with a teardrop-shaped loop skated at the top of the circle). There is one category of very simple figures that are unique to roller skaters; these are serpentines that begin with a half circle skated on one foot, then change to the other foot, for the next circle, then change back to the other foot for another half circle.

Judges in figure events consider, among other things, the quality of the skater's tracing of the circle; clean takeoffs, edges and turns; and correct placement of turns. The skater's form and posture is emphasized as well.

Some of the more basic figures are 1, 2, 1B, 5A, 5B, 7A, 7B, 111A, 111B, 112A, and 112B, where as the letter B means you start on your left foot. The absence or replacment of the letter B almost always implies you start on the right foot. These figures are often taught as beginning figures for those just starting.


Roller dance skating contains two major sub-disciplines: American Dance and International Dance. Both specialties contain prescribed compulsory dances and steps that must be performed, such as the Imperial Tango, the 14 Step, the Keats Foxtrot, or the Flirtation Waltz. Some of the dances are the same dances as are performed in ice dancing competition, while others are unique to roller skating. American Dance is performed only at the United States National level and below, and emphasizes keeping the upper body upright and free from movement. International Dance is performed in most other countries and at the World Championships, and includes Free Dance and Original Dance elements. Some of the basic American dances are the Glide Waltz, Progressive Tango, and the City Blues.

Free skating

Artistic free skating traditionally emphasizes spins that are uncommon on ice, such as the inverted spin in which the skater leans backward with the free leg extended high in front (a sort of inverted camel spin position, similar to the spin sometimes called the Harding spin in ice skating, but with an extended leg), and spins that would be impossible to do on blades, such as the broken ankle spin, which rotates on a deep edge on the inside wheels, and the heel camel spin, which is only rotated on the back, or heel, wheels of the skates.

Artistic skaters also perform the quadruple, triple, double, and single jumps known from the ice skating scene, such as axels, loops, and salchows. Some elements have different names in roller skating than they do in ice skating; for example, the Mapes jump on wheels is equivalent to the toe loop on ice. Though both ice and roller skaters perform the Euler jump (called a "half-loop" by ice skaters), it is more common in roller skating programs, as lengthy multi-jump combinations are emphasized in roller skating judging. The Euler is a useful connecting jump in such combinations; for example, a five-jump combination might include a waltz jump, loop, Mapes, Euler, and a salchow.


A roller precision team in action
A roller precision team in action

Precision skating consists of a group of skaters skating in a synchronized fashion. Precision skating involves high speed and careful timing, as one misstep might not cause only one skater to fall, but an entire group. In Precision, the skaters wear the same costume, sometimes even having the same hairstyle.

See also

  • International Roller Sports Federation
  • USA Roller Sports


  • Marina Kielmann's official site
  • Tara Lipinski's official site
  • USA Artistic Roller Skating Rulebook, 2000 edition. Lincoln, NE: USA Roller Sports. 2000.

External links

  • International Federation of Roller Sports: Artistic Skating
  • USA Roller Sports: Figure Skating
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