This week's column:
Best Roller Events for the Olympics?
August 22, 2012
Hi, Bill: What roller sports disciplines (speed, hockey, roller derby, artistic, etc.) — and what specific events within those disciplines — do you think would best showcase our sport in the Olympics? - Dennis from California
Hi, Dennis: I am going to take the long way around to answer your question. The IOC has let it be known that it doesn’t want more sports with subjective scoring methods. It has had enough of scoring controversy after the figure skating scandal at the 2002 Winter Games.
It also doesn’t want new sports that will require adding a large number of athletes to the Olympic Village.
With that in mind, our sports federation (FIRS) in 2005, in response to an request from the IOC, proposed a small inline speed skating meet, consisting of four events, contested by a total of 72 skaters: 36 men and 36 women.
The proposed events were a 300-meter time trial, a 500-meter sprint, a 5-kilometer race, and a 20-kilometer elimination. (For more on this proposal read this Inline Planet story.)
Given the constraints, this was a sound proposal.
With the recent success of track cycling at the Summer Games, I would also suggest we consider proposing a 3-skater 600-meter race, patterned on the men’s team sprint race in cycling. In this event, two teams of three cyclists compete against each other starting on opposite sides of the track.
That said, here’s the five events I would propose:
1) 3-person, 600-meter sprint (as described above)
2) 500-meter sprint
3) 5000-meter relay (3 person )
4) 10,000-meter points race
5) 20,000-meter elimination
These are all exciting events, which would make excellent TV, not to mention Olympic competition.
Unfortunately, given that the IOC doesn’t want to add events that require a large number of athletes, it would not make sense to propose an inline marathon. You need a lot of skaters on the racecourse — more than 36 — to generate the exciting team and pack dynamics of an inline marathon.
At this point, speed is probably the only roller discipline with a wide enough global reach at to be considered for the Olympics. But roller sports continues to develop and spin off new disciplines at a fantastic rate.
Aside from the standard disciplines, we have x-cross, downhill, slalom, ramps, extreme, and roller derby (both the Indian handball version and the traditional style).
With so much going for us, we could organize our own Olympics.
Who needs the IOC? We could roll circles around the rings!