One of the least asked question about roller derby is, how it was like being fresh meat. Sometimes people forget that we weren’t always this comfortable in quad skates. I remembered thinking to myself that since I knew how to roller blade and ice skate, I thought, roller skating shouldn’t be too hard. Especially since there are four wheels on each boot, logically it would be easier to balance on.
Having bought them in Australia while I was there, I took them out for a test run the next day in the park, bearing in mind it was years since I last roller bladed or ice skated. I even happily changed the wheels to an outdoor set of wheels in order to preserve the surface of my indoor wheels as much as I can.
The moment I put them on, first thing that came as a bit of a shock would be the weight of those skates! Attributing the heaviness of the skates as a sign of my lack of exercise for years, I ignored it and stood up. I was dead wrong about those skates. No doubt it has four wheels on each boot, balancing on those things were totally different from blades! I was struggling to look like I knew what I was doing in the park while each foot starts sliding in opposite directions, and eventually my feeble attempts at keeping my feet where I want them to be proved to be a rather comical sight. I had no choice but to sit down and observe these skates again.
If you didn’t already know, the stoppers for a pair of quad skates are located on the front of the skates. And very naturally, when you put on the skates for the first time, seeing how the stoppers are on the very front of the skates, you can’t help but wonder, how in the world are we supposed to stop on your front? Because most of the time when we fall, we fall forward, so if you are going to fall (forward), how does the stoppers help in preventing that fall?
This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the many difference between a pair of quad skates and a pair of roller blades. Truth be told, I can’t really remember how it feels like to be on roller blades, but one thing I definitely can tell you is when you fall with a pair of quad skates on, almost most of the time (if you are not derby trained!) the very common way of falling is on your bottom, which is behind! This is why the first few lessons in derby is on how to fall safely and properly without injuring yourself, but that’s another story for another post.
To evenly distribute your weight so you are well balanced on the quad skates without falling backwards requires you to be skating in a particular position all the time. This is also known as the derby stance. Imagine pooping on a toilet but without actually sitting on it, sort of semi standing/squatting. That pretty much sums up how you look like in a derby stance.
All in all, that first time experience on a pair of newly bought quad skates in that park was pretty hilarious (for onlookers, not so much for me because I was scared shitless). That wasn’t the first time I fell though, thank god. I only experienced that awful fall on the butt during my first practice with the Sun State Roller Girls in Brisbane. The girl that was coaching me even made an effort to point it out that I kinda bounced an inch high off the ground a couple of times before proceeding to ask if i was alright.
So, the next time you see a derby bout looking really intimidating or even if you are interested in joining a league but have not been exercising for years and to make matters worse by being a smoker (like yours truly), remember this – everyone started from the same place. It’s the passion and hard work that makes a skater good. Everything has to start somewhere, don’t be afraid to let that interest or passion show.