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World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.

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Aug. 5, 2009

Can Skaters Train on Both Inline and Ice?

QDear Bill: My children, ages 10 and 12, are combining inline skating with short track ice speed skating. They compete on inlines in the summer and both inlines and ice in the winter. Some say this is a bad idea because they are forced to change their technique on short notice, especially in the winter. But they are doing well in both sports and love them both. What is your opinion? Is there an age when they really need to choose? Thanks a lot, Gaby in Belgium

Hi, Gaby: When children are young and flexible, it's OK for them to do a variety of sports. Only later, when they are 14 or 15, do they need to focus on one sport — and only if their goal is to reach the top levels in international competition.

Many top inliners move comfortably between long-track ice and inline, devoting winters to the ice and summers to inline. Generally, they need a few months to adjust back and forth, although the transition is harder if they inline skate on traditional 200-meter banked tracks.

Fewer skaters have successfully moved between short track and inline skating. And most who have find that transitioning from short track to inlines is more difficult than going the other way around — apparently as a result of the required change in hip position.

I don't know many skaters who successfully move between inline and short track skating, although a few Canandian short-trackers have done this. But, as I said, lots of skaters have rotated from inline to long-track ice, including Elma De Vries, Sijird Huisman, Shane Dobbin and Pascal Briand.

But juggling sports is not for everyone. My daughter Nicole tried out for short track in New Zealand and was immediately offered a spot on the Olympic training squad. But she declined because she thought it might hurt her inline skating without pushing her to the top ranks of short-track skaters — and she didn't want to be half good in both sports.

Eventually, your children may have to choose between inline or ice — but only later when — and if — they decide they want to get to the top of one or other of their sports.

Cheers, Bill

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