Many people get confused between inline skating and rollerblading, and wonder if there is different techniques that are used or if the equipment differs in any way, shape or form. Basically rollerblading is a brand name that can be used for inline skating because of the huge impact that Rollerblade Incorporated had on making skating popular all over America.
But it is a common mistake to think that Rollerblade actually designed inline skates or skating for that matter. The company was not responsible for the invention or production of the first inline skates, but they were good at marketing skates and the pastime, and today inline skates are often still called rollerblades no matter who made them.
The correct terminology for rollerblading is actually inline skating, although if you happened to be wearing Rollerblade brand skates then you could also way you were rollerblading. But if you are enjoying skating with another manufacturer’s skates then you are simply inline skating. If all this sounds a little confusing then this blog will explain things a little better.
The Early Days of Inline Skating
Rollerblading as a trade name has rather dominated the sport of inline skating and overshadowing almost everything else, eclipsing the true history of inline skating. Ice skating and hockey were the inspiration behind inline skating.
And Ice Skating has been around for thousands of years, but it was not until a couple of hundred years ago around the mid-1700’s that a man called John Merlin invented the first rudimentary skate with a single line of wheels. The inventor did this as a gimmick to entice people in the street to enter his museum.
As the years went by many different inventors gathered around the world started to make developments of their own, and all different types of skates were made. The big breakthrough came in 1863 when a pair of skates hit the market that had two axles.
The formative years of inline skating saw many developments but it was not really until two brothers named Brennan and Scott Olson established the first real inline skating company to manufacture skates on a commercial basis. The company was called Ole’s Innovative Sports, the skates that they made had no brakes and were designed to be used for ice skaters and hockey players to practice with. Ole’s Innovative Sports later became Rollerblade Inc.
This novel invention started a great demand all over the world which we know today as roller skating. It propelled the company into international fame and global success paving the way for more manufacturers to join in and a whole new sport / pastime had been born.
Although the original products were designed as an aid for two completely different professional sports, Brennan and Scott soon saw the potential of their product and quickly rebranded it and their company to something more befitting, Rollerblade Inc. In part two we discover more about Rollerblade Incorporated and see how the company came to dominate the world of inline skating as we know it today.