This week's column:
What does 2012 hold for roller sports?
Jan. 12, 2012
[Editor's note: We dispensed with the column’s usual format this week to ask Bill to peer into his crystal ball and predict the biggest skate stories and trends of 2012. You might say his forecast calls for variable skies with a few rays of sunshine.]
1) Rising power
With Indonesia leading the way, Southeast Asia will emerge as a player in the world of roller sports. Indonesia and Thailand are producing some solid speed skaters. And Malaysia and Singapore may be next; both countries possess a rich supply of athletes with fast-twitch muscles. But while speed is blossoming, freestyle slalom reigns supreme in Southeast Asia.
2) More trouble for the WIC
Expect more difficulty for the World Inline Cup, formerly the flagship of our sport. It has been struggling with head-to-head competition from the European Cup. The two organizations have held major events on the same day, diluting the competition and tarnishing the shine of the once-mighty WIC. And don’t expect things to improve quickly. Some influential Europeans hope to see the WIC fall.
3) "Get your own skaters!"
U.S. skaters will finally come to the realization that the officially-sanctioned inline-to-ice training program, which continues to divert America’s top speed skaters to ice, is doing irreparable damage to inline skating.
4) European recovery
With the World Championships heading to Rome, Europe will improve its gold medal haul and restore some of its former glory.
5) Unstoppable Colombia
Despite better performances by European skaters, Colombia will continue to dominate the World Championships. The only thing that could stem the Colombian tide is a strong showing by South Korea and China Taipei. But don't count on this so far from Asian soil.
6) A wheel bonanza
Good news for skaters: Fierce competition among manufacturers will result in a wider selection of outstanding wheels.