A sneaky look into the future: What could roller sports be like in 20 years?
A journey into the future
Foresight: A Short Definition
"Foresight: approach that is both rational and holistic, and which doesn't consist in predicting the future, but in developing different scenarios that may or may not occur, according to how they are perceived in the moment, and based on the analysis of all available data."
Due to the rising average size of the younger generation, the standard wheel size has kept increasing too, reaching 3x150mm on marathons. Four-wheel set-ups are still skaters' favorites for track racing. The World Championships take place every other year, alternating with the Continental Championships: Federations don't have the financial means to support their national teams, and send them abroad every year!
Moreover, the competition schedule has been cut down, with the suppression of all road races, in favor of track racing — way more telegenic and spectacular. The FIRS's beloved 100 m races have disappeared from the programs too: What's the use of having wheels on when the best skating sprinters cannot break the record of Lightning, Hussein Bolt's son (9''50)?
Quad skates still exist, but the younger skaters are way more into inline skates, which have become the most common skates on international events, and for all categories. Athletes compete solo, in pairs (mixed or same gendered), or groups.
Having now the same judging methods as ice skating, wheel skaters share training places with the former ice skaters, in newly created permanent buildings. Global warming has forced the true ice skaters at heart to move to northern countries, to practice their activity that has now become unaffordable in the old Europe. Both ice and inline skaters now use the same synthetic floor. For financial reasons, and because of the rising success of roller disco nights, those new skating halls gather artistic skaters and roller dancers; they host school skating classes during the day; and they can be converted into hockey rinks and more, according to scheduled events.
At last, the time of smelly uniforms after a week of championship is over: A genius inventor has created a new anti-bacterial treatment, reducing maintenance to the bare minimum. But let's go back to serious matters: ice rinks maintenance costs having become exorbitant, they have been demolished, or converted into multisports halls.
The best hockey nations in the world practice on synthetic floors, whether on inlines or ice skates. The Czech Republic, the USA, and Canada still dominate the competition, but Russia, Finland, and Sweden give them a hard time, and invest significant funds to stay in the running, after their late conversion. The emerging nations of the southern countries can now train in good conditions, and are growing strong. The sport has professionalized, and competition is fierce to enter national teams, with the former ice skaters who have converted into inline skating. A conjoint professional hockey league has seen the light to gather the pro skaters of both disciplines, and star players are worth millions of dollars.
The free movement of players imposed by Europe made the practice almost completely disappear in the northern nations of the European continent, in favor of professional teams, which are essentially performing in Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Rink Hockey has considerably developed in Africa, in the former Portuguese and Spanish colonies. Promising skaters are spotted there, and sold for a fortune, especially in Angola and Mozambique. All the international sports channels are fighting over the broadcasting rights of the new Latin Countries Championship, gathering the best nations of Europe and South America.
The peaks of pollution in urban areas has got the better of the practice of skating in the cities for a while. It was only recently, around the year 2030, that the thermal vehicle ban in city centers enabled a few skating lovers to put back on the skates of their childhoods. New alternative means of transport have multiplied: Modernized electric carrier tricycles have replaced bikes, for family and goods transportation, and skaters have to share the streets with them, but also with gyro pods, scooters, electric skateboards and hover boards.
Long Distance Skating
Long distance skating lovers and sportspeople looking for fresh air can now follow super transcontinental green lanes in clean areas. They have ecological smooth surfaces, that are draining and nonskid. The equipment has evolved too: skates automatically mold to the shape of your feet at first use. The energy produced by the wheels' rotation when skating is recycled to power your electronic equipment (GPS, communication unit, drone camera, augmented reality helmet...)
Just like boarder cross on snowboards at the Winter Olympics, skatecross entered the Olympics in 2028. With the aim of taking market shares to ESPN on the youth segment, the IOC has revised half of the program of the Olympics. The races formats have slightly changed: to save money, and with the development of the practice, all facilities are shared with BMX racing, which is now only using coated circuits. In the cities, some skating associations split up allocated time slots at the already-existing racing tracks with BMX associations.
After many years of debates on the degradation of street furniture caused by skates, skateboards, scooters and BMX, cities have finally understood that our practices weren't limited to skateparks, and could be fully integrated into city centers. Module manufacturers have adapted their supply in creating spots that blends into the cityscape.
The average age of slalom champions has kept on decreasing, and Asia has had the upper hand on all world top-3s for several decades now. Only the Russians seem to be able to resist them.
Downhill Skating events have taken back over city centers for the public's greatest joy. Several disciplines are mixed: skateboards, soapboxes, sledges, scooters, and masses of other machines on wheels. Competitors go one by one for races against the clock, or in groups. Fancy dressing is part of the folklore and, for most contestants, having fun is more important than the competition itself.
Virtual slalom and aggressive skating contests are born. The winner is the player landing the craziest tricks on the spots or modules designed during the event by the public.
Players meet on international competitions: the events sell out stadiums, and are broadcasted live on the Internet. Betters fight over the best players. Doping and the use of stimulant drugs are strictly controlled.
How do you see the future of skating? Share your comments!