When I was a kid, I had a pair of cheap aggressive skates. I never really tried to get good, and even though I could keep my balance OK, I never learned to do any tricks. Instead, simply dismissing the sport as too easy because the wheels are strapped to your feet, like snowboarding and unlike skateboarding.
Watching vert skating especially looked to me at the time like cheating. It was so easy to do I thought. Looking back now and watching the sport, you realise that the things which I and many kids unfortunately seen as making the sport easy, actually give the sport its uniqueness among extreme sports. Few other sports in this genre allow you to use your whole body to emphasise tricks. Some of the grabs you’ll see from vert skaters are some of the most spectacular and stylish you’ll see. The extensions of the grabs, combined with the speed and therefore height that the skaters achieve is something amazing to watch.
Equally, spinning tricks are obviously easier to control as the skates are attached to your feet, but this just offers more room for experimentation and style. In the same way snowboarders can do incredibly complex and stylish rotations on axis skateboarders can’t achieve, the same is true here. The speed and angles of some of the spins are extraordinary. Watch the Yasutoko brothers, Takeshi and Eito and you’ll see what I mean.
Put simply, skateboarding, like BMX are more technical sports, while aggressive skating has more of a natural flow and freedom to it when done well. I like all of these sports and essentially all extreme sports to some extent, but the simplicity and style of aggressive skating makes it stand out. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with a lot of smooth surfaces and nice grind spots, then you can have a great deal of fun. Plus, it’s a lot less daunting to newcomers. If you fall on a trick, you’ve got no big bike to get tangled up in and even though you can’t bail out if you get it wrong, it’s easier to start smaller on skates than you can with a board due to it’s less technical nature.
With all this said, I think when you consider the progression the sport has seen in the last few years, as well as the fact that with more TV presence, what more could be done. I definitely think that ESPN should strongly consider reinstating inline back into the X-Games. It’s one of the founding extreme sports and I think it deserves its place back on the biggest stage. Progression of tricks would go through the roof if the sport was given a second chance.