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Inline Skating Newsletter Article

Growing Young Before Her Time

By Liz Miller

Guest author and aggressive skater Brigitte Schulze started skating at the age of 47. She has a great philosophy about aging gracefully and agreed to show and tell us how she became a late-blooming aggressive skater.

Years ago I used to spend time at the local skate park watching my 3 children skate/skateboard, until one fine evening I decided to buy a pair of skates and give it a try myself.  After all, some exercise was in order, especially if there was an element of challenge attached!  My daughter helped me choose a pair of skates as well as safety equipment and then began teaching me some basic skills.

Soon I realized that learning to work my way up this ramp by rolling forward and backward, along with the occasional 180-turn, was not only strenuous, it was more of a challenge than I had anticipated!

Bridgette day 1

Having conquered those skills, I faced the next challenge: dropping into a tiny mini ramp. At first I made the same mistake a lot of beginners do: straightening my legs when reaching the flat.  (Not recommended). Eventually I had no problems dropping into a ramp the way you see me doing here.

Dropping in

I also learned how to do a backside stall. This is a 180-degree rotation on approaching the ramp and then landing on the coping (metal strip) facing the way I came up the ramp, ready to drop back in. 

180 backside stall

The last aggressive trick I learned is called a mizou stall. Here’s what it looks like.

another stall

When I started skating, a major goal was to actually be able to drop into the big ramp by my 50th Birthday. The ramp has since had to make way for a vert wall, but the middle section of the bowl is about the same height (2 meters), so that had to suffice. Not only have I learned to drop it, I have also learned to do a backside stall there.

Brigitte's big ramp drop in

I have now been skating for about two years and still enjoy it very much.  I notice I have regained some of the instinctive ability to fall that I used to have. Furthermore, my joints have become more flexible again. My sense of balance and also bone density both appear to have improved. (For the rest, there is cosmetic surgery, although I have no plans for any!).

What do Brigitte's friends think?

Over time, the younger skaters have accepted me as a permanent feature in the skate park and are tremendously supportive. They have had mostly very encouraging responses (some have even added me onto their "myspace"). I often end up sharing the bowl with the really good skaters, who are very supportive when I try and learn a trick. To my surprise, some of the young skaters told me that they wished their mum would also be skating! 

My friends, and especially younger colleagues, were initially less tolerant of my skating; I often had to listen to comments that the sport was too dangerous for my age and I should grow up.  My reply usually was: “I’ve been there: I did just that and got bored and afraid of becoming old before my time.” Now even the fiercest critics have stopped and some of my friends have changed their opinion, although they have no intention of learning to skate.

I know a few middle-aged male skaters, all of whom are much better than I am. But it is a wonderful experience to meet up occasionally (usually when there is a skate event) and talk wheels, bearings, frames, different skates etc. I just wish that I could find other female middle-aged skaters, who, like me, love the thrill of dropping into a ramp or tackling the grind box!  The best feature of this sport is that the skater decides how far to take it!

My children all skate with me, even my youngest son who initially was not too pleased to have his mother on wheels.  I must admit, it was not my intention to intrude into my children’s sport. So, to be psychologically more independent, I have joined the SAG (Skate Association Germany e.v.).

I believe that in the end, though, all skaters skate together. My daughter went to Camp Woodward (West) last Summer, somewhere in the desert in California, and loved it!  I am very intrigued by the pictures and maybe will manage some time to go there myself!

See videos of Brigitte at her myspace profile, Geriatricskate.

Other August 2006 Stories

bulletred picture Inline Mastery Ladder - Find your rung (physical capabilities) on my new learning ladder and learn how to climb to the top.

bulletred picture Technique: Scissors Coast - Proper respect for the one building skill that every skater needs the most and then takes for granted forever after.

bulletred picture Treat Your Feet - Tips to help you treat tired or crampy feet and lower legs after a long day on wheels, plus advice for pain prevention.

bulletred picture Skating with Nordic Poles - Triathlete Joshua Delucca Colon describes his journey learning a new way to cross train for endurance events.  

bulletred picture Point Isabel Trail in Richmond, CA - Tracing the San Francisco Bay shoreline, this bike trail offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge with whirling pelicans and seagulls overhead.

bulletred picture Leader in Learning - Get earns an award of excellence; college text book features Liz Miller’s Inline Skating chapter among 41 others.

bulletred picture Review: eZeefit Ankle booties may just be exactly the accessory you need for your favorite human-powered sports.

bulletred picture Skater Crossing - Online destinations where skaters congregate and find information.

bulletred picture Mini Survey: Non-reversing Skate Wheels - Maybe they aren’t so crazy after all!