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How Things Change – The Evolution of Skating

How Things Change – The Evolution of Skating

With a history that can be traced back as far as 1760, skating has arguably enjoyed longevity as a popular pastime amongst children and adults alike.

We explore the evolution of skates, starting as a very basic patented roller skate and progressing into new waves such as the skateboard and its latest counterpart.

Roller Skates

The first patented roller skates were not very popular. The invention, by Belgian John Joseph Merlin, was soon out phased by a newer and more sophisticated model.

In 1863 James Pimpton developed the ‘rocking’ skate which provided a vast improvement on the roller skate, allowing the skater to turn. Skaters could turn around corners and calve turns, something which was unimaginable on its predecessor. From the ‘rocking’ skate, roller skating was born.

What started out as a backyard activity has now developed to become a fully fledged a globally recognised sport, even bearing its own Roller Skating Association. The Roller Skating Association, which started out in 1937, works to educate people about roller skating and is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Playing a pivotal role in many competitive sports, such as roller hockey, roller skating is no longer viewed as a simple pastime. Roller skating has even featured in the Olympics, making its debut in 1992. Other competitive sports to feature roller skates include speed skating, figure skating, roller derby. As well as sports, roller skates have been used in global stage shows, such as Starlight Express and made a huge splash in the disco era of the 1980s.


The exact birth date of skateboarding is not known, it is believed to have emerged in the late 1940s to early 1950s. Regarded as a dry land alternative for surfers, the first skateboards started as wooden boxes or boards with roller skate wheels attached to the bottom. The boxes then developed to become planks and then further evolved to become pressed layers of wood manufactured by companies. In this era, skateboarding often took the name of ‘Sidewalk Surfing’.

With advances in technology and manufacturing improving the skateboard year on year, Skateboarding grew in popularity. The mid 1970s saw a big peak in popularity for skateboarding and then again in the 1980s.

Today’s skateboarders are predominantly street skaters. Most boards are between seven and eight inches wide and 30 to 32 inches long. The wheels are made of hard polyurethane and are small in size to make the board lighter and the wheel’s inertia quicker. There are a reported 18.5 million skateboarders in the world, 85% of these are under the age of eighteen

Freeline Skates

Freeline Skates offer the latest development in the world of skating. The skates are dual independent skates that combine elements of skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding.

Freeline Skates offer a new experience for gadget lovers to demonstrate their boarding skills by transferring them to a new manner of riding. The skates provide a challenging and innovative way to carve big turns and invent new tricks, whether it’s on the flat, on a hill or on the ramps.

Freeline Skates are ridden in a similar manner to that of a surfboard/snowboard, with riders shifting their weight from heel to toe to change direction allowing them to carve smooth ‘s’ turns while riding downhill.

The skates are independent, but unlike skates and blades they are not strapped to the rider’s feet, this offers an added bonus to riders by allowing them to achieve high levels of traction on the flats and uphill providing a wide range of locations that are suitable for skates.