ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Let's Go Outside: Northland offers many opportunities for inline skaters

Skating on wheels is something most people learned to do as kids. Sidewalk skates that rolled up and down the sidewalk or circled around the driveway provided hours of outdoor fun for millions of American youngsters.

Skating on wheels is something most people learned to do as kids. Sidewalk skates that rolled up and down the sidewalk or circled around the driveway provided hours of outdoor fun for millions of American youngsters.
Some people graduated to roller rinks, where they wore fancier skates and learned to do tricks and dancing on skates. Then, the Rollerblade company developed the inline skate that has swept through the nation like a hot wind on a summer afternoon.
The first inline skates were developed in Minnesota by the Hanson brothers, who envisioned the skate as a training tool for ice hockey, said Lucky Lennon, self-described "old guy" at Ski Hut.
"The configuration of the inline wheels made the skate more maneuverable, faster," Lennon said.
Though roller skating on the West Coast was big long before the inline skate was created, the inline born in the Hansons' Minnesota garage was the impetus for a whole new leisure activity and, subsequently, competitive sport.
"The good access to paths and places to inline" make Minnesota a fertile ground for the activity.
"In the winter, you can skate inside the Humphrey Dome," he said.
A 15-year aficionado of inline skating and director of the North Shore Inline Marathon, Chuck Carlberg said inline skating is one of the best aerobic exercises and one that doesn't require a large investment.
The skate is the first piece of equipment required for inline skating. There are several retail locations for purchasing new equipment and at least one shop where used skates can be purchased on a trial basis.
Play It Again Sports sells "nice used skates" for $40 to $50, said Darrell Spencer, owner of Play It Again Sports, for the person just starting out.
"The majority of our business is the first time or recreational skater," Spencer said, although he sees many marathoners, too, who are spending up to $250 for a pair of skates.
A new feature of the inline skate is a soft boot that is styled more like a hiking boot and features an exoskeletal frame. The soft boot provides greater comfort, is lighter weight, breathes better and fits a broad range of foot shapes.
Other pieces of equipment recommended by Carlberg are the helmet and wrist guards. "The helmet is essential," Carlberg said. "Knees and elbows can be protected, too, but fewer people buy these," Carlberg said. "It's better to go to a sports store and get a good fit. Some people buy skates that are too big, and then they get blisters."
There are many opportunities to learn inline skating in the Twin Ports area.
One resource is the Northern Inline Skaters, a membership club that teaches techniques for everyone from the first-time skater to the experienced inline skater who wants to improve their technique.
"They do a beautiful job with helping people get started," Lennon said.
Northern Inline Skaters has about 80 paid members of all ages and abilities, said Terry King, treasurer of the club.
Every Sunday, Joe's Jelly Roll, an informal offshoot of the Northern Inline Skaters, meets at 10 a.m. at the Blue Note Cafe in Canal Park.
On Tuesday evenings, a group meets at the Northwest Airlines maintenance facility at the intersection of Stebner and Martin roads at 6 p.m.
On Wednesdays, the inline club meets at 6 p.m. at Douglas Road and the Munger Trail just south of Black Bear Casino for a Munger Trail skate, and on Saturday mornings at 8 a.m., the club members meet for a maintenance base skate or a Munger Trail skate.
A club newsletter issued quarterly and e-mails keep members up to speed on activities. People interested in joining the inline club members can call King at 724-0943 or Rick Abrahamson, club president, at 724-3145.
"We offer free skate lessons and will help people get their skates," King said. "Or, they can come to an event and see what it's like," King said.
Carlberg is interested in starting a Friday night skate. He said 10,000 people skate through Paris every Friday night.
All ages can learn to skate. Carlberg said in his 15 years of selling skates, he noticed the typical first-time skate buyer was a 25- to 35-year-old woman. The age of the average North Shore Inline Marathon skater, though, is 42 for men and 38 for women.
"I know people who are skating at the age of 70," said Lennon.
The Munger Trail is a favorite skate path. Skaters can skate the scenic trail without interference from vehicles.
Carlberg, who lives on the Munger Trail, said he skates four days a week. "If I don't skate, I miss it," he said.

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.