This week's column:
Bill Begg's Top 10 List for 2011
Dec. 29, 2011
[Editor's note: We dispensed with the usual question-and-answer format of Bill's column this week and asked Bill to share his list of the top 10 events and developments of 2011 in the world of inline skating. Happy New Year!]
2011 was tough for inline skating, particularly at the top of our sport. The World Inline Cup struggled in the face of direct competition from the European Cup and couldn’t even manage an award presentation at the end of the season. And heat and disorganization tarnished the World Championships in Yeosu, South Korea.
Of course, the tough economic conditions in Europe and the United States were a big part of the problem. With money tight, our sport was unable to find the sponsors it needs.
But despite that, things weren’t all gloom and doom. This year saw a surge of interest in inline skating in Southeast Asia. And, despite the tough economy, a few new brands entered the skate market and supported teams.
That said, here’s my list of the top events in inline skating in 2011:
1) Joe Hanna, an American coach, formed the International Speed Coaches Association (ISCA), dedicated to supporting and educating coaches worldwide.
2) The World Championships were scheduled to return to Oceania after a 20-year absence. The Federation International of Roller Sports tentatively designated Timaru, New Zealand (my hometown), as the site of the 2015 championships. Timaru is the site of a new 200-meter track. The last time worlds were in Oceania was in 1995 in Perth, Australia.
3) Indonesia showed its support for inline skating by buidling a world-class track and road facility in Palembang.
4) For the first time ever, inline speed skating was part of the South East Asian Games (SEA Games). The Indonesian team dominated, winning all 12 gold medals and most of the silvers. Hopefully, skating will remain in the games.
5) Indonesia sent a big team to the World Championships: 16 skaters in all, including a surprisingly strong group of boys. The boys finished fourth in the junior division, behind Colombia, Korea and Chinese Taipei.
6) The track referee at the World Championships knew what he was doing. He took a post high above the track — higher than referees in previous years — and could actually see what was happening. The result was some stellar officiating. (unfortunately, the recording of results this year was atrocious.)
7) New Zealand reacted nimbly to a disaster that threatened the Oceania championships. After an earthquake, officials moved the event from hard-hit Christchurch to Timaru City without missing a beat.
8) Severin Widmer (Swiss Skate Team) and my daughter Nicole Begg (X-tech MPC-International), finished on top of the 2011 World Inline Cup. Nicole won despite an injury to her spinal cord (syringohydromyelia), most likely caused by a skater dragging her down from behind in the 2010 World Championships.
9) The National Speedskating Circuit, cofounded by Joey Mantia, added a new dimension to speed skating in the USA.
10) New Zealand’s Scott Arlidge put on an amazing display of selflessness at the World Championships. He led the 15,000-meter track elimination for all but three or four laps. Then gave the win to teammate Peter Michael by providing him with a mighty lead out.