Wheels VS Blades

A glance into the similarities and challenges of ice skating and roller skating


Roller skating and ice skating, although different in their own ways, share many fundamentals. Senior Lindsey Johns is a figure skater and a part of the Jordan Valley Figure Skating Club. She said ice skating and roller skating share the fact that they are both competitive, performing arts sports.
“Although, when it comes to competition and performance, figure skating’s more well known,” Johns said. “Considering the difficulty, I think that recreationally, roller skating is much easier than figure skating.”
Even after years of roller skating, when English teacher Amanda Stoll found out about roller derby, it only added to her love for skating and broadened her horizons.
“I started skating when I was a kid,” Stoll said. “One of my classmates’ parents owned [Springfield] Skateland, so they would host monthly skating parties for elementary students, and we continued to hang out there a lot in middle school. Then after college I found out about a roller derby team.”
Not only can skating open doors to one’s competitive nature, it can also be a creative outlet that helps with mental health. Junior Lola Simmons ice skates and roller skates, and she started roller skating during the COVID-19 quarantine.
“It was also helpful having free time during quarantine and honestly just taking time to put an emphasis on my mental health,” Simmons said. “I think that doing things like skating and taking time to do things that you love is really important and it releases those endorphins, just making you super happy.”
While roller skating and ice skating may seem to have fundamental similarities such as stops used and some techniques, not everything is the exact same. Roller skating is on wheels, while ice skating is only able to be done on ice. The amount of balance and where balanced is used can be very different. Roller skating and ice skating can have many differences, especially in regards to a skater’s technique.
“Where you place your feet or weight is different,” Simmons said. “Along with the amount of balance is a little different. There is definitely an effect on when you can do it. You can roller skate all year while ice skating can only happen in the cold or in ice rinks.”
However a similarity between the two is that each have a learning curve. Having a good teacher to show you the ropes and provide support can help immensely in the beginning stages.
“My amazing coach Bethany Shin has definitely helped me a lot — she is awesome,” Johns said. “She’s a natural born teacher and just really explains things well and helps you see what you’re doing wrong and how to do it right.”
Not only can professionals be helpful, but so can the right equipment. Using quads, a four-wheeled roller skate, can help with some skating techniques.
“A friend got me into quads, after I’d been skating on  for a really long time, and it was super helpful to skate with him because it was just nice to have another friend that could relate,” Simmons said.
While some skaters are inspired by other athletes, friends and family, other skaters may be inspired by well known athletes due to their technique, winning streak or abilities on the rink.
“Roller derby is its own sport just like any other sport,” Stoll said. “There’s no professional athletes that get paid, but there are well known athletes. There’s these skaters in New York — their team’s called Gotham, and they’re well known amongst the roller derby community, and I do look up to them.”
Along with these sources of inspiration, many skaters strive for great achievements ranging from winning competitions to learning a new skill.
“Coming up in December, we have our festival of lights — it’s our winter show,” Johns said. “I’m performing a solo and I’m very excited to do an amazing spin entrance and moving waltz jump.”
Simmons started skating when she was a young child.
“We went to the ice skating rink for my birthday because I just had this obsession with this figure skating American Girl doll,” Simmons said. “And afterwards I started going consistently. … I got addicted to skating — I roller skate all the time now.”
When starting a new physical activity such as skating, some guidance may be needed when accounting for arising fears and new techniques.
“Just go for it,” Simmons said. “After you fall down enough it doesn’t hurt. I was really scared of falling down when I started ice skating — it terrified me. I didn’t wanna fall down because I thought it’d hurt a lot, but my dad told me he didn’t wanna see me touch the wall ever … so I started skating and fell down a couple of times. Then it got to the point where I would create routines with my friends every time I’d bring them to skate. Skating with other people I think has really helped me.”
Not all skaters can do both roller skating and ice skating or can transfer to one from the other.
“I would love to try roller skating again and see if my talent and skills will transfer, if my credits will transfer and see if I’m good at it or not,” Johns said.
There are many ways to start skating, but it is a matter of picking ice skating or roller skating, and trying it.
“I’m not sure it matters how you start skating,” Stoll said. “My experience was all with roller skating but, if you’re more interested in ice skating, you should go do that. Starting with recreational skating is how I got started skating for fun, and it’s worked out pretty well.”
Participating in skating can give people opportunities.
“I started ice skating when I was about eight years old, and I for sure have so many ideas and hopes for the future,” Simmons said.
Some skaters may be new to the sport, but it can grow into a hobby.
“I started skating at the beginning of 2020, so figure skating years, not a very long time, but I hope to continue for a while,” Johns said.
Stoll said although she doesn’t skate anymore, she wishes she did.
“I would if I had time,” Stoll said. “I now have two babies … — a two-year-old and an 8-month old — so I just don’t have time but one day I hope to teach them to skate.”