Ice Skating and Rollerblading: Which is Best or Hardest?
Is ice skating harder than rollerblading?
If you're starting out, which is best or hardest?
Should I try both?
And if I learn one, will it make the other easier?
These are all pressing questions for anyone jumping into roller or ice sports.
Ice skating and rollerblading are fantastic options for either recreational or competitive purposes.
They are also growing in popularity.
Statistics show that more than 11.3 million Americans rollerblade.
Ice skating has about 9.5 million participants, and this does not include sports like ice hockey or speed skating.
Create Your Own Ice or Rollerblading Rink Right At Home With Polyglide Ice
Whichever one you choose, you're in good hands.
Both disciplines can look hard to start and appear even harder to master.
This blog post will help compare and contrast them so you can decide which one is 'best' or 'hardest' and get started as soon as possible.
What is ice skating anyway?
Ice skating is a practice that uses boots with metal blades attached so you can slide and glide over smooth ice surfaces.
You may notice it during the Olympics, as figure skaters pull off near-impossible moves on the ice.
However, ice skating is a practice that dates back thousands of years.
History suggests that the first ice skates were made from bone and leather shoes to travel over icy tundra.
Over time, the bone turned to metal blades.
What was a necessity turned into a recreation and then a competitive sport.
The concept is simple.
You wear ice skates and move swiftly and gracefully over smooth ice surfaces like rinks, ponds, and lakes using ice skates.
Using a pushing motion, you can move across these smooth surfaces effortlessly.
There's a science behind ice skating.
The pressure and friction of the blades create a thin film of water, allowing the blades to move through a process called hydroplaning.
This interaction between ice and the blade allows you to control your movement and direction.
Ice skating also involves balance, control, and maneuverability, which only comes with practice.
Over time, you develop speed and can perform various jumps, turns, and spins.
These moves are part of the competitive skating we see today.
What do you need to ice skate?
A big relief for the question, "is ice skating harder than roller skating," is that you do not require lots of equipment to start.
You need three things:
1. A pair of ice skates: These are boots with sharp blades attached to the soles. The boot is made of leather, synthetic plastic, or some combination of these materials, which is essential for stability and ankle protection. These skates are generally lighter than inline skates.
2. An ice surface: A large smooth surface made of ice is necessary for skating. Rinks can naturally form due to winter temperatures freezing large bodies of water. However, most rinks are indoors and created using a process of refrigeration. Some people make their own backyard rinks during the wintertime. Now, synthetic ice rinks do not depend on freezing temperatures. The right skating surface ensures you have a wonderful time on the ice.
3. Protection: You'll also need to have warm clothing and some safety equipment like knee pads or helmets. As you master it, knee pads and helmets aren't necessary.
Ice skating techniques and skills
You'll need to develop a few skills to become a competent ice skater.
● Balance: You will be navigating the ice on blades 1 to 1.5mm (about 0.06 in) wide. Skates need to distribute their weight evenly to prevent falls and accomplish different moves on the ice.
● Edge control: Blades have two edges – an inside and an outside edge. Leaning the skates and body in specific movements allows skaters to utilize these edges for stopping, turns, spins, jumps, and much more.
● Forward and backward swizzles and slaloms: Ice skaters learn to skate both forward and backward, crossing over the legs to make swizzles or staying low to the ice for amazing slaloms.
● Turns and jumps: Skaters will learn the different turns and jumps that combine edges and the toe pick as they move up in competency.
Ice skating is a technical skill that needs guidance and coaching. Beginners should learn from a coach for the best results.
What about rollerblading?
Rollerblading is an activity where you roll or glide along a surface using wheeled boots or shoes.
Rollerblade wheels are in a single row, hence giving them the name inline skates.
With rollerblading, you push off the skates one foot at a time, with the wheels propelling you forward.
This action (and the wheels) also determines speed, maneuverability, and control.
Compared to ice skating, rollerblading started around the 18th century, first introduced as roller skating on quad skates.
Various inventors changed or improved the design until the first inline skates were born in the mid-1800s.
The design has changed over the years to become the inline skates we call 'rollerblades' today.
Some of the popular rollerblade brands include K2, Macroblade, Roller Derby, and FR skates.
There are different types of inline skates with 3 to 5 wheels of varying sizes.
Your inline skating essentials
Rollerblading requires a few essentials based on your skill level. These include:
1. Roller blades: These boots are often made of a hard plastic to protect the foot and ankle. Inline skates also come with different sizes of wheels and designs for recreational skating, city skating, and freestyle skating. Choosing a beginner skate before moving on to other styles.
2. Safety equipment: Beginners are expected to wear helmets, and wrist, knee, and elbow pads. This safety equipment protects the body from falls. Wearing long-sleeved clothing is also recommended for beginners.
3. Skating surface: Rollerblading can be done anywhere with a hard surface, like asphalt, pavement, or concrete. The surface can also be smooth, like polished concrete or hardwood, which is common in roller rinks.
Rollerblading techniques and skills
● Balance: Rollerblading, like ice skating, requires balance on the inline wheels. The skater must position themselves to distribute the weight and align the body. Depending on the type of rollerblades, the width of the wheels provides more stability.
● Edges: Like ice skates, roller blades have an inside and outside edge. These can be used to help navigate turns or perform skill moves.
● Power: To perform certain jumps and tricks while rollerblading, you'll need more power. Since there is more friction on rough surfaces, roller bladers need to generate more force to perform the same move. Rollerblades are also slightly heavier, making advanced moves more taxing on the body than ice skating.
Ice skating and rollerblading benefits
Do you know that ice skating and rollerblading have similar benefits?
Whichever one you choose, you'll enjoy many of these advantages:
● Improved cardiovascular health: Both increase your heart rate and are great aerobic exercises.
● Muscle strengthening: Rollerblading and ice skating require full body movement. Muscle activation is great for strengthening and toning. It's not uncommon to see professional skaters with strong legs, arms, and core.
● It's fun: Who wouldn't have a good time skating? Whether it's with friends, family, competing, or social activities, both ice skating and rollerblading take the stress away.
● Professional avenues available: Young people can move into competitive or professional spaces in both sports, making a career
What are the differences and similarities between ice skating and rollerblading?
Anyone curious to know if ice skating is harder than rollerblading is surprised to find there are many similarities between the two sports (besides the benefits we mentioned).
● Balance: You'll need to establish proper balance when ice skating or rollerblading. These require bending the knees and keeping a balanced head, arms, and shoulders. Beginner ice skating often requires a deeper bend of the knee.
● Swizzles and turns: Both sports have turns, and swizzles as an important part. Ice skaters tend to focus on mastering edges and jumps. Rollerbladers focus on turns, tricks, and style.
● Jumps: At advanced stages, both sports encourage jumps, with ice skating having advanced technical moves like a triple axel.
● Skill level: Both can be learned at almost any age, with most beginners being young children.
● Surfaces: The biggest difference comes in the surfaces you need to skate or rollerblade. Ice is wet and slippery with little to no friction. You can do both sports indoors and outdoors, but for ice skating, you'll require access to an indoor rink or synthetic ice rink.
● Utility: Since most surfaces in urban areas are asphalt or pavement, you can rollerblade almost everywhere. It's not uncommon to see people use rollerblades as a mode of transport or even to deliver items.
● Stopping: With little friction, ice skaters must use moves the snowplow stop or T stop. Some beginner and intermediate rollerblades come with a breaking mechanism at the end of the wheels.
● Toe picks: Figure skates and some recreational ice skates have a serrated point to help with specific turns.
● Speed: Because of the reduced friction, ice skaters go faster than rollerbladers. Ice skaters can go more than twice as fast as rollerbladers.
Is ice skating harder than rollerblading?
Beginners find that ice skating is harder than rollerblading.
New ice skaters benefit from an innate ability to balance as it requires more than rollerblading.
It's slippery and faster than rollerblading, so that can be a challenge for newbies.
Ice skating also requires more technical knowledge for turns, and other movements, which can take a longer time to master.
Rollerblading requires a similar commitment to balance, control, and skill, but it may be easier to get the hang of the basics.
Both carry their unique challenges, so it's down to what is your preference, environment, and other specific challenges that will prevent you from committing to one or both.
Is ice skating better than rollerblading?
Both sports have fantastic benefits, with one not better than the other.
Again, it depends on your personal preference.
Rollerblading is generally easier to learn.
People are less intimidated by falling on asphalt and concrete.
Rollerblading is also a lot more accessible.
Finding an ice skating surface can be challenging, especially in warmer states (unless of course you own PolyGlide Synthetic Ice ;-)
With rollerblading, all you need is a sidewalk, parking lot, playground, skate park, or roller rink.
Public locations are also conducive to rollerblading, think the Venice boardwalk or Navy Pier in Chicago.
On the other hand, ice skating requires more technical skills and training.
While we mentioned you don't need much money to start, ice skating is also a well-organized sport with different skill levels.
Going through the ranks can sometimes be costly.
You must pay to use the rink, coaching, competition, costumes, and other equipment.
If budget is a problem, you can move on to ice skating from rollerblading.
At the same time, ice skating is a skill that's in high demand and can lead to many opportunities, so the investment is worth it.
Enjoying ice skating AND rollerblading
Ice skating and rollerblading each need specific surfaces to participate.
Ice skating needs frozen ice rinks, and rollerblades need a hard surface like asphalt or concrete.
Recently, skaters have discovered you can use synthetic ice rinks for both disciplines.
Synthetic ice rinks were primarily created for ice skating with your actual blades on a surface that's not ice.
This surface is made of polyethylene plastic, infused with a slip surface agent to help with skating.
Not only is the surface durable, but it's versatile, meaning you can rollerskate and rollerblade!
Learn more about rollerblading on synthetic ice in one of our popular blog posts.
Is ice skating harder than roller skating? Let's reassess this question.
The question should not be, "Is ice skating harder than roller skating?"
Both disciplines have similarities and differences.
Both have pros and cons.
And frankly, anything you start will be challenging and have some degree of failure.
The question should be, "Which is more appealing to me right now?"
If you're more drawn to ice skating, start it first.
If rollerblading is easier to get into, try that instead.
There's no rule that says you can't do both!
When you finally begin to get the hang of the one you choose, you'll realize the principles are about the same.
Experts agree it is easier to transition to rollerblading from ice skating than vice versa.
However, the mechanics are about the same as the position of inline skates mimics that of ice skate blades.
The most important thing is to choose one that appeals to you.
From there, have fun, commit to learning, don't be afraid to fall, and then move on to the other.
If you're interested in learning how to ice skate in the comfort of your own home, any time of the year please pay us a visit!