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roller skating,gliding on a hard, smooth, durable surface on skates with rollers or wheels, in recent years has become a popular adult sport. Skates mounted on wooden rollers date from the 1860s, and soon wooden wheels replaced the rollers. The ball-bearing skate wheel was invented in the 1880s. The origin of roller skates is obscure (perhaps they were first used in Holland), but the sport became popular among children throughout the world. When figure skating and dance movements were adopted from ice skating, roller skating gained a large adult following. Numerous roller-skating rinks were built in the United States in the 20th cent., and several roller-skating tournaments are now held annually. Following World War II, the roller derby, a spectator sport involving team competition on banked indoor tracks, gained prominence. Since the 1980s in-line skates, which have their wheels, or rollers, arranged in a single line and afford the skater more stability, have largely superseded the older skates.
a sport that includes hockey, artistic skating, and speed skating on roller skates.
Roller hockey has undergone the greatest development. Each team has four field players and a goalkeeper. The dimensions of the field are 34–40 m × 17–18 m, the surface is of wood, asphalt, stone, or synthetic material, and the height of the boards of the rink is at least 20 cm. The stick is wooden, with a curved hook; it is 90–115 cm long and weighs not more than 500g. The ball is 23 cm in circumference and weighs 155g. The skate consists of four rollers, each having a diameter of at least 3 cm, and the athletic equipment worn is similar to that used in ice hockey. A game consists of two periods of 20 minutes playing time each. There is no offside rule, and checking is forbidden, which makes the game dynamic.
Roller hockey originated in England in 1903. In the early 20th century it became popular in a number of European countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and France. European championships have been held since 1926, and world championships (every two years), since 1936. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, the British team won 12 consecutive European and two world championships. Between 1947 and 1972 the Portuguese team was world champion 11 times, and the Spanish team, six times. Since 1926 competitions have been held for the National Cup. The European championship for juniors has been held since 1962, and competitions among European countries for the European Cup, since 1966. In 1974 national competitions were held in 40 countries. Among the strongest teams are those of Italy, Argentina, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, the USA, and Japan.
Competitions in artistic skating are conducted according to the same program as figure skating on ice—figures (singles) for men and women, pairs figures, and pairs dancing. The figures and movements are similar to those used in ice skating. The skaters usually perform on roller hockey rinks and use the same skates. Artistic skating began developing as a sport in 1910 in England. European championships have been held since 1937, world championships, since 1947, and South American championships, since 1971. Approximately 30 countries from all continents participate in international competitions. The strongest skaters are athletes from the USA (men’s singles and pairs dancing) and the Federal Republic of Germany (women’s singles and pairs figures).
Speed skating is the oldest roller-skating sport. Its appearance is associated with the invention of roller skates by the French engineer Garcin in 1815. During the 19th century, skating on these skates became popular in many countries. In 1910 the first speed-skating competitions were held in Oostende, Belgium. Modern competitions are held on special tracks (the foundations of speed-skating tracks designed for artificial ice are often used) and on highways; world championships are not held on highways. A lighter type of skate is used for speed skating. Distances for men are 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 m; distances for women are 500, 1,000, 3,000 and 5,000 m. Men’s records for 1974 are as follows: 500 m, 45.8 sec; 1,000 m, 1 min 29.7 sec; 5,000 m, 7 mm 55.0 sec; 10,000 m, 15 mm 49.7 sec; and 20,000 m, 31 min 59.2 sec. Women’s records for 1974 are as follows: 500 m, 1 min 1.5 sec; 1,000 m, 2 min 35.5 sec; 3,000m, 6 min 51.6 sec; and 5,000 m, 12min 10.8 sec.
There are world championships (since 1910, every two years) and continent championships. The strongest speed skaters are athletes from Italy and England (men), Belgium, Italy, and Spain (women).
The International Roller Skating Federation was founded in 1924 and in 1974 included 40 national federations. In 1949 it was recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the federation governing a non-Olympic sport.
In the USSR, roller-skating sports are not practiced, and roller skating is used as preseason training for speed skaters, hockey players, and skiers.
A. L. LEIKIN