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Ice, Inline or both?
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    Special Report RRN Staff,
   Wednesday, February 26, 2003

In February 2002 inline speedskaters watched television coverage of friends and former inline teammates win gold, silver and bronze at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games.  Ice rinks around the United States had to schedule additional ice time to accommodate the surge of interest in ice speedskating, with many of the new recruits coming from the inline world.  After the crush of Olympic enthusiasm eased the excitement in the top ranks of inline speedskating was only beginning.

As it turns out the inliners themselves were not the only ones in the top ranks to notice the opportunity of going from inline to ice.  The USOC and US Speedskating (NGB for ice speedskating) see the broad and deep pool of inline speedskating talent as one of the best ready-made development sources for future Olympians and more medals in the next Winter Games. 

The inliners feel this in their hearts and it is becoming a driving force in the sport. Chad Hedrick decided after 50 inline world championship gold medals that Olympic gold might be nice too.  Julie Brandt-Glass, Harry Vogel, Matt Halbreich, Ryan Cox, Kimberly Derrick, Erin DiJulio and many others are switching or considering switching to ice after the 2002 Olympics.  Even those without Olympic dreams have added ice to their cross-training programs.

Kimberly Derrick:
USA World Team & Team Mogema-Labeda

 Switching to ice is a good thing if that's what a skater wants or feels the need to do to better themselves. I am planning on trying ice soon to see if I want to give it a shot or not. I'm going to try short track first because thats all I have up where I live. I also want to try long track too. Just to see which one I like better and if I even want to give it a shot. When I do start ice I plan on skating inlines also.

Actually my brother and me had talked about starting ice for a while now but we never did, but now since the Olympics we have really wanted to get into it. It was pretty cool watching ice in the Olympics and being able to say that I knew some of the people there. Knowing that they made the switch over and succeeded in doing it made me feel like I could do that also.

Chad, Julie, and the others aren't what made me want to start ice, but knowing that they made the switch and are doing well with it just makes me feel like I'll be able to make it also. There have been quite a few inline skaters giving ice a shot since the Olympics. For the most part everyone who has tried it that I have talked to has liked it. Also, most of them who have made the switch so far are still planning on skating inlines.


How will skaters make the transition, and once they go to ice will they come back to inline competition?  Can you do both?

Dean Burke:
K2 Racing Team Member & Manager

I do support the number of skaters making the transition. It is a strong testament to the strength of inline athletes, but ask the guys who have made it and they'll tell you that they had to learn everything all over again. Few of them can come back from ice and be very strong on their wheels again. Ice is so technical- much more so than inline. I think that the inline skaters do well because they already have so much strength and muscle memory from inline skating.

I think its going to take a heck of an athlete to successfully do both inline and ice. I know one inline athlete right now who is trying to go for both long track ice and short track ice and be an Olympian in both at one Olympics. But I think that athlete got a taste of how hard it really is in this first season.

I think going from inline to ice is a lot easier than going the other way.  Then there are guys like Cedric Michaud. Cedric is from France and an incredible marathoner on both inline and ice. He has just chosen to stick with ice. He makes a lot more money doing that in Dutch countries. Cedric won Duluth on inlines in 2000 after not training on inlines at all that year.

But there are a lot of young skaters out there now who are in clubs that spend a lot of time training on both inline and ice. I know of clubs in Texas and Florida that are putting out some really fast inliners who train for both. I don't know how their ice results are at this point, but I bet that this young pool of athletes who are training consistently in both sports are the ones who write the books of tomorrow.

What does this mean for the future of inline speedskating, in the Olympics and as its own sport?

Erin DiJulio:
USA World Team & Team Mogema-Labeda
I think that if a skater wants to make it into the Olympics and can't do it on inlines because it's not a sport that is "in" yet then go for it!  I know a lot of people that are making and have made the transition from inlines to ice.  I plan on trying short and long track ice.  The university that I go to just built a olympic size short track ice track.  As for trying long track I have to look around to see where I'll be able to do that.  I don't know when I'm going to start, but hopefully soon.

I think that I really started to consider ice speedskating when I heard that inline speedskating might not make it into the Olympics.  The whole time I was watching the 2002 Olympics I was so excited because it was like- I know these people and I used to skate with Derek Parra when I was skating with Virgil Dooley.

Of course, I think that the thought crossed a lot of skaters minds, especially the ones that had skated on the same team as those guys. You think well if they can do it then so can I.  In the end it was not any one specific skater that made the difference to make me make up my mind to try ice, I think the fact that inline may not become an Olympic event had more of an influence on my decision


Will the USOC and US Speedskating have more or will they have less incentive to see inline speedskating become an Olympic sport?  If ice is the only skating Olympic opportunity will inline continually see its top athletes switch to ice?

The USOC has a policy of financially rewarding medal-producing programs.  The more medals that can be won at the Olympics by speedskating the easier the funding flows from the USOC to the speedskating programs.  The more choices and more opportunities speedskating offers the better for athletes to develop and excel. Athletes can naturally be expected to pursue those opportunities where they find them to pursue greater challenges and victories.  That is what brought them to the top in the first place.

Suppose we see a USA speedskating team in the 2006 Winter Olympics dominated by skaters like Hedrick, Vogel and Halbreich or other inline to ice converts that we have skated with.  Inliners going for the Olympic dream is trend that will only increase in the future.  What will this mean for the hopes and dreams of inliners to compete in the Summer Games?

Links

US Speedkating
The Petit National Ice Center
The Calgary Olympic Oval
The U. S. Olympic Committee
Derek Parra
Q-Sports Agency

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