I’ve been skating since I was about 16 or so, on and off. I started off on aggression skates and half-pipes, pootling around and doing my level best to not break any limbs – an endeavour in which I succeeded admirably with one notable exception. That one time was when I fell forwards and didn’t know any better than not to land with arms outstretched. This meant my wrists took the brunt of the impact and I couldn’t move them for about a week. Nothing broken, though.
As time wore on, however, I found that I did less and less aggressive skating – I stopped caring about skate parks, ramps and “Big Air” quite so much. I was content to use my skates to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. However, I quickly found that aggressive skates, while being built like a small tank – impervious to basically everything except maybe nuclear warfare – are also immensely heavy, not manoeuvrable and the small, hard wheels made it difficult to make headway without burning a lot of energy on anything other than perfectly smooth tarmac. Even paving slabs presented a challenge in terms of slowing you down.
It was time for a change. Thankfully, a friend had a set of fitness skates with much softer and larger wheels which they didn’t want, so kindly donated them to me. Immediately, I saw the difference. I could go for literally metres at a time without having to push off. My turns started to be measured in feet instead of light years again and I didn’t feel like I had two concrete blocks strapped to my feet. Great for staying on the surface of the Moon. Less so on Earth.
However, about this time, I started to regularly hang out in Hyde Park with some friends who were learning to skate. Inadvertently we got mixed up with the freestyle/slalom crowd – the overlap between slalom and circus seems to be quite big and getting your poi in the park will have people coming up to you in short order. One thing led to another and slalom/freestyle captured my imagination like few things have ever before. As someone who is very interested in proprioception-centric activities – playing with skill toys, basically – this appealed to me immensely.
After a couple of abortive attempts to do slalom on my fitness skates, I found that while they were stable, they weren’t agile enough as the wheelbase was too long. I found this out by falling on my ass a couple of times. And then I got thinking: it’s my birthday soon so I’m going to treat myself to a set of freestyle skates.
A few family members have been kind enough to donate to the cause and yesterday I went to Clue Blue Room to have a chat with them as a friend had pointed me at their ex-rental sale – £180 skates on sale for £80. Checking our their website, however, I spotted a pair of SEBA Igor Pro 2014 skates that I’d been eyeing for a while on sale at a huge discount, so “sod it” I thought.
Here they are. Purple laces were mandatory, obviously.