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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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Jan. 6, 2010

The Decade in Inline Skating

QDear, Bill: What do you see as the decade's top 10 most significant events in inline skating? - Robert in NorCal

Hi, Robert.

Here you go:

1) The International Olympic Committee's rejection of inline skating — it picked golf and rugby, instead — for entry into the Summer Games.

This was a devastating blow to the skating community. The IOC went for cash, completely turning its back on Olympic ideals. Roller sports simply lacked the financial clout to mount a winning campaign.

2) The demise of Italy as an inline powerhouse.

At the beginning of the decade, Italy was the top nation at the World Championships. Last year, it finished in sixth place and collected only 10 medals, far behind first-place Korea with 39 medals.

3) The rise of Colombia as an inline powerhouse and its great passion for the sport — but under something of a cloud.

The big issue is the number of Colombian skaters with high hematocrit levels. In some cases, these skaters have even been allowed to compete, leading to questions by other nations.

Defenders have attributed the elevated hematocrit to the high altitude at which some Colombians train. But this answer seems suspect since not all the high-hemotocrit skaters train at altitude.

WADA is likely to take a closer look at the situation. Expect to see more unannounced outside-of-competition tests in the future.

Colombian skaters are renowned for their hard work and training ethic, which could be a factor in the hemotocrit levels. But right, wrong or indifferent, the situation needs to be resolved.

4) The growing strength of Asian skating nations, including Korea, Chinese Taipei and China.

In the final years of the decade, these formally non-competitive countries produced some very exciting sprinters while continuing to field some dominating endurance skaters.

5) The rise of the World Inline Cup.

In its heyday (mid-decade), it was the flagship of our sport. However, it has declined recently. Hopefully, it will return to the dizzy heights of yesterday.

6) One super hero, Chad Hedrick, leaves to be replaced by another, Joey Mantia.

Mantia is possibly an even more imposing figure than Hedrick. (The two relays at the 2009 World Championships showed the most amazing turns of hair-raising speed I have ever witnessed. Video of the track relay.)

In the women's ranks, Cecilia Baena has proved an imposing figure, when not injured (though she missed the recent World Championships.) Nicole Begg created a great deal of worldwide publicity with her famous nude roller skating poses.

7) The specialist sprinters — Gregory Dugento on the road and Kalon Dobbin on the track — dominated for most of the decade. The top women sprinters were Valentina Belloni, Andrea Gonzales and Jennifer Caicedo.

8) The success that inline skaters found on the ice.

Derek Parra, Jennifer Rodriguez, Chad Hedrick and other former inline skaters found Olypmic glory as ice speed skaters.

9) The emergence of new inline skating nations.

Several formerly noncompetitive nations (e.g., Germany and Belgium) started winning medals at the World Championships ... thanks to coaching expertise built on strong home programs.

10) Big wheels changed the playing field!

Personally, I thought 100mm wheels should have been the limit. But the CIC yielded to pressure and upped it to 110mm, and the result has been higher speeds and more crashes and an advantage for stronger skaters. As a result, we see the gradual demise of the skill factor in our sport.

Cheers, Bill

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