Things You Didn’t Know About Roller Skating


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When you think of roller skates, do you picture your youthful self riding around your neighborhood during summertime? I do. And all these years later, I had never really given much thought to an activity that was a major part of my childhood. But, cold weather has me wishing for summer, and with that comes reminiscing. So, I picture myself in my roller skates. And then I think of all the times I went to the roller, which has me thinking…how did roller skates even happen? Well, some digging has been done, and you’re about to learn a little something new about an old pastime.

Roller skating was first created as something of a joke. The very first recording in history about roller skates, or what would qualify as a roller skate, was in London during a stage performance in 1743. Seventeen years later, John Joseph Merlin created a primitive form of inline skates with small metal wheels. From there, a lot of tinkering went down, as people were trying to figure out a use for the skates. Some appeared on a ballet stage in 1818 and then the following year, the first patented version of roller skates was introduced by France by M. Petitbled. These first roller skates have little to no maneuverability, so those wearing them could pretty much only move in a straight line and little else.

It’s not surprising the roller skate didn’t exactly take off at this point in time. However, the invention was intriguing enough for inventors to tackle improving the design, causing them to test out a wide variety of different constructions and styles over the next century. As improvements were made, the public’s interest boosted. Skating rinks began popping up in major cities all over the world and became part of different forms of entertainment, from additions to circus acts to various stage performances. In a sense, the roller skate was the first athletic accessory created that qualified as an extreme sport, allowing those who knew how to skate to do things that could never be done on a bicycle or other pedestrian forms of transportation.

As the design for the roller skate came more and more into focus in the 19th Century, the activity became as ubiquitous as riding a bike. Skating rinks could be found in big cities and tiny towns alike as a favorite activity; popular with young kids, and a hot spot for dates and serious skaters who looked at the activity as both a workout and a form of artistic physical expression. As roller skating became a common part of society in the 20th Century, the activity also appeared regularly in pop culture, from music to movies to television shows.

As with anything that has a long history, roller skating has collected numerous facts, stories and anecdotes about it over it’s nearly three centuries in human history. Here are 20 of the greatest skating stories and facts to surface.

Do you have a favorite memory of roller skating? Please share!