Comparison of Roller Skating vs. Ice Skating

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Difference between Roller Skating and Ice Skating

Roller skating is an activity or sport in which a person attaches wheeled shoes to their feet and travels upon smooth surfaces. Roller skates are available in many forms, but typically are in a quad formation or in-line. Roller skating has had a resurgence in popularity within the last few years as roller derby teams and hip hop dancers are bringing it back into focus.

Ice skating is an activity or sport in which a person attaches shoes with metal blades along the bottoms to their feet in order to glide or skate along an ice covered surface. Ice skating has long been enjoyed as both an indoor and outdoor activity.

History of Roller Skating and Ice Skating

Roller skating was invented in the mid 1700s in London as part of a stage performance, but the name of the inventor is unknown. The first roller skate inventor of record is John Joseph Merlin in the year 1760. It wasn't until the 1800s that the roller skate was patented and the design was much like the popular in-line skates of today.

Ice skating might well have been invented over 4,000 years ago in Finland. The first ice skates were only sharpened bones attached to the bottom of the foot. Metal blades of today actually cut into the ice during skating, and the first application of adding edges to the blades was credited to a Dutchman.

Mechanics of Roller Skating and Ice Skating

Roller skating in the early days was a difficult sport as the first skates were hard to maneuver and it wasn't until 1863 that quad skates were invented. With the four wheels set in pairs, the skate could pivot and skaters could turn with just leaning. Motivation was accomplished by pushing off with each skate, one at a time until momentum and leaning could be used to continue propulsion.

Ice skating works much in the same way as roller skating in means of locomotion, but friction is established by leaning the blade over and digging into the ice. This assists the skater with movement as well. Ice skaters lean their body and push the blades against the ice in a technique called "drawing".

Roller Skating and Ice Skating Sports

Roller skating was popularized in the 1970s with the 1971 movie, Derby. JB Skating is a dancing troupe of roller skaters and is becoming popular once again in hip-hop circles. These groups dance and perform on roller skates to James Brown songs and other "old school" music. Free style and speed skating are other forms of competitive roller skating sports.

Ice skating takes shape in many popular sports such as ice hockey. Ice hockey is a team sport, which can be very dangerous and exciting. Figure skating is another skating sport in which individuals or duos perform very graceful, beautiful, and daring feats of dance and acrobatic maneuvers. Speed skating is a popular sport during the Olympics games.

Compare and Contrast

Roller Skating

  • Roller skating is a popular activity where wheeled shoes are attached to ones feet.
  • For fun as well as sport, roller skating is a good way to stay in shape while enjoying yourself alone or in a group.
  • Roller skating has existed in many forms for hundreds of years and is in the throes of a comeback in popularity.

Ice Skating

  • Ice skating has long been an activity that all sorts of people can enjoy.
  • Whether inside an ice skating rink or outside upon a frozen pond, ice skating has endured sustained popularity.
  • Many sports activities, such as hockey and short track racing have been spawned as well.
  • There are some inherent dangers to ice skating such as falling through the ice or cutting oneself with the sharp metal blades.
  • Kids and adults alike enjoy the thrill of the skating speed.


comments 2 Comments

  • Dutch . 3+ yrs. ago

Roller skating is harder to do then ice skating. Why? Doing edges. One blade (each boot) verses four wheels (each boot) Each blade has an inside and outside edge verses roller skates which has four wheels sped apart--each wheel has an inside edge and a outside edge. Basically, ice and roller skates are able to preform the same. However, due the edging roller skating can not do some edges as you can do on ice skates.

  • sdlkfjhfih . 3+ yrs. ago

Not to mention the fact that 4 wheels are heavier than 1 blade. So when doing jumps its harder. And landing is harder since you aren't landing on a flat surface. With skates you land on a flat surface against a flat surface. Also skating hurts the feet more. I skated in the past for years and now my feet and ankles are jacked up and a friend did roller skating for years and their feet and ankles aren't the best but no where as bad as mine.

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