But What About Aggressive Skating?
Last fall, inline skaters of several disciplines (artistic, speed, hockey and downhill) were excited to hear the news that the International Olympic Committee was considering including "roller sports" in the 2012 Olympics.
But even before the announcement was made in late September, the International Federation of Roller Sports (FIRS) had come to believe that roller speed skating (same as inline speed skating) was the only viable contender, according to the minutes of a FIRS committee meeting September 3.
During the meeting, FIRS Secretary General Roberto Marotta told members that "maybe" in the past "we lost" an opportunity to win inclusion for other disciplines. "But now ... (the) FIRS central committee is convinced that the only discipline having some chances [sic] to become Olympic is roller speed skating."
Olympic Guidelines for Inclusion
Marotta may be right. When the Olympic Committee met in Athens last summer, it established criteria for Olympic inclusion. Among them are global participation, spectator attendance, media interest and anti-doping policies.
None of the standard roller sports -- speed, artistic, roller and downhill -- fare well under these criteria. Inline speed skating is the only roller sport which has global participation. (About 40 countries competed in last summer's World Inline Championship in Italy.) But none of the roller sports draw large crowds of spectators, and media interest is practically nil.
And Then There's Extreme Skating
On the other hand, there's the inline discipline of aggressive skating, which is not affiliated with FIRS. It has fans in many parts of the world, lots of spectators and plenty of TV coverage. (Drugs have not become an issue, although that could change.)
Some people in the skate world believe aggressive skating has a good chance of making it into the Olympics along with other gravity sports, like skateboarding and BMX biking. (Gravity sports was not one of the sports the Olympic Committee said it was considering. But an industry group is hard at work trying to get it into the Games.)
Mike Chiasson, the inline skate manager of Salomon North America, says gravity sports may prove attractive to Olympic organizers as a way to attract young viewers.
"Right now, kids are not watching the Olympics," Chiasson said. "So having gravity sports in the Games is definitely a good move."
He said inline racing may be more suited to the Olympics than aggressive skating. "(But) if the Olympic Movement wants to get kids watching, it's not going to be to watch an inline race. So I almost have to concede that aggressive skating, in this case, could pull the racers along with them (into the Olympics). And I think it's going to be all or nothing. It's going to be aggressive and racing -- or neither."
Is It a Long Shot?
Before you get your hopes up about Olympic inclusion, keep these factors in mind:
Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson