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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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Feb. 9, 2011

Who Are the Top 10 Skaters Of all Time?

QHi, Bill: In your opinion, who are the top 10 inline speed skaters of all time and what made them so good? - Luis in Florida

Hi, Luis: Ask 10 different coaches and you'll get 10 different lists.

One thing that makes this difficult is the youth of our sport. Remember, inlines only rolled into the World Championships 18 years ago. Some great skaters — like the Muse brothers — were already finishing their careers when inlines appeared.

But that said, here's my list:

1) CHAD HEDRICK - USA

The originator of what I call the “superior double push technique, Chad won 41 world titles. He was far better than everyone else of his time. His unusual body structure was uniquely adapted to the sport. He was laid back and an extreme socializer (read: party animal). But he could still win. Many regarded him as a freak.

2) JOEY MANTIA - USA

Joey is a human power pack with a Mr. Universe-type lower body. He’s chock-a-block with muscle and has horsepower to burn. He’s collected something like 28 or 30 world titles. He does a lot of off-skate training and his on-skate drills are excellent. His technique perfectly suits his raw power. He is very skillful. In fact, he is one of the best technicians in the history of the sport.

3) THERESA CLIFF - USA

Theresa never looked like a winner. But most times she was. She earned 20 world titles and she was also a great team player and worker. She trained hard and was a great competitor. Racing was in her blood. She always knew what she had to do and how to do it. She was also a top competitor — and champion — in the World Inline Cup.

4) VALENTINA BELLONI - Italy

Valentina was the winner of 19 gold medals at the World Championships — and none were gifts. She earned all her golds in time trials or 1000-meter races. She was known for the great, long drive-through of her setdown. She never looked like she was going fast, but her drive-through got her there.

5) MAX PRESTI - Italy

Max did it his way. He only earned three gold medals at Worlds. But he didn’t let the Italian Federation rule him. Rather than focusing on Worlds, he concentrated on the World Inline Cup, which he won six times when the circuit was at its peak. Max ruled with an iron fist. And when it came to street (race) smarts, he was up there with the best of them.

6) JORGE BOTERO - Colombia

Jorge is another great skater with only three gold medals. But he would have won more if he hadn’t had to contend with Chad Hedrick — in his prime — for much of his career. In all, Jorge earned 34 medals, including 19 silvers. Always a tough competitor who gave his all, he was dedicated to constant improvement. He was first on the track and last off when training and also had a very tough off-skate program. A hungry gorilla.

7) WOO HYO-SOOK - Korea

Woo has won eight world titles in the last few years. Her speciality is the points race. She is feared for her ability to maintain high speeds in the late stages of races when others simply can’t go on. She has a very high level of fitness. Her habit of setting down the heel of her skate first sets her apart from other skaters. She is something of a loner who keeps to herself. She is virtually unknown outside Korea but a legend among mid-distance skaters.

8) GREGORIO DUGENTO - Italy

Gregorio was not renowned for possessing high levels of fitness; he was simply a powerhouse — an explosive brute blessed with extreme levels of fast-twitch fibers. He was a one-dimensional skater; a sprinter, only good in time trials. But that was enough to win him 12 world titles.

9) KALON DOBBIN - New Zealand

Kalon won more banked-track 300m time trials than Duggento, his long-time rival. A brilliant technican, Kalon studied every inch of the tracks he competed on and was usually the first foreign skater to arrive at venues before World Championships. Not a giant physically or a skater blessed with lots of fast-twitch muscles; instead, he was a thinker who studied his opponents.

10) CECILIA BAENA - Colombia

Cecilia has had some differences with the Colombian Federation over the years. This has resulted in her missing several World Championships. But she has excelled in the World Inline Cup and is a brilliant and exciting skater who is desperate to win. She possesses a devastating final 100 meters on the open road. She started winning World Inline Cup events when she was 15 and is still winning at age 24.

Sorry to those who I may have missed!

Cheers, Bill

 

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