The Hippo


Apr 20, 2019








Indoor inline skating

Rye Airfield (Airfield Road, Rye, 964-3848, is one of the largest skate parks in the country and features ramps, rails, minis, spines, bowls, pools, etc.
Rochester Arena (63A Lowell St., Rochester, 335-6749) is a roller rink during summer months; from April 1 through June 28, there’s public roller/inline skating Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and 8 to 9:30 p.m. ($5 per skater, rentals included), according to the website,
Great View Roller Skating Rink (180 US-4, Enfield, 632-7878) skating sessions are generally $8 for three hours.

Skate on
Let’s make inline skating cool again!

By Kelly Sennott

OK, so inline skating isn’t quite as popular as it was in the ’90s — it peaked probably sometime during the making of 1998 Disney Channel Original Movie Brink! — but it’s sort of coming back, says Tom Hyser, marketing manager at the national company Rollerblade, whose home office is in West Lebanon.

Signs, he says, are in Rollerblade sales numbers, which have increased all around the U.S. in the past two years, and also in the fact that some local retailers are beginning to sell them again. 
“The mid-’90s in general was our biggest time of participation. … Like with many mini action sports, the trends kind of follow a 10-year cycle,” said Hyser, who used to be a professional skater. “Right now we’re on an upswing. We’re seeing a lot of college-age kids [inline skating], and also parents who grew up in the ’90s who are introducing their kids to the sport.”
For those who want to partake in this upswing, we’ve scoured the state for tips on picking out your recreational (or super advanced) inline skates and places to put them to good use.
Choose your skates
You can get inline skates at most large sports chain stores — Dick’s Sporting Goods and Sports Authority both carry them — but you can also find them at smaller specialty stores, like Pure Hockey (which has locations in Hooksett, Dover, Nashua and Exeter) and Spank Alley Skate & Board Shop in Concord.
Hyser says inline skates come in two styles. A molded style is built more like a ski boot. It’s for someone who wants more durability — maybe for street hockey, tricks or cross-training — while the soft style is generally more lightweight and comfortable.
After that, look at size and durability. Fit should be snug but not too tight, not too loose. To judge on support, squeeze the cuff area; a cheap skate, Hyser says, will be flimsy and flexible.
“You want something that has good support for your ankles and good wheels and bearings,” Hyser said. 
A good wheel size for beginners is around 80 mm, around 100 to 110 for high-end, advanced skaters. (The larger the wheel, the faster you’ll go — but it also takes more energy and core balance to skate on them.)
If you plan to skate primarily outdoors, you also need to look at the type of wheels, says Pat Moore, manager of Pure Hockey in Dover. Each skate wheel has a different durometer, which measures its hardness.
“You want a harder wheel if you’re going to be outside on asphalt. They make softer ones for indoors,” Moore said. “When you’re indoors, the floor is very slick, so you need a softer wheel for better grip.”
Indoor skating
Today, rinks for inline skaters are few and far between. They had existed in Newington, Merrimack and Laconia but are now closed; the closest full-time rink is the Great View Roller Skating Rink in Enfield, and the closest part-time one is Rochester Arena, which transforms from an ice rink to a roller rink April through August.
The state’s more advanced skaters can be seen at Rye Airfield, which is one of the biggest skate parks in the country. Though general manager Beau Lambert says he used to see a lot more inline when the park opened 13 years ago — any given day, about 25 percent were skaters — he still sees a small, tight crowd of aggressive inline. He suspects the decline in popularity had to do with the X-games no longer holding inline skating events.
“A good number of kids who inline skate also ski. They’re the park type skiers; they hit all the rails and jumps,” Lambert said. “It’s a natural extension of what they’re doing.”
Hyser agrees; he says people also use it as cross training for endurance sports, hockey, even CrossFit, because it helps build endurance and leg and core muscles.
Outdoor skating
Luckily, outdoor options are expanding. Hyser says he thinks most Rollerblade customers are recreational athletes skating around neighborhoods and quiet streets, but for those who don’t live in inline skating-friendly neighborhoods, there are numerous paved rail trails and lots of plans to expand those trails.
The biggest plan is the Granite State Rail Trail, which, when complete, will comprise a paved path from Salem to Concord following mostly abandoned rail corridors (visit for details). Right now, the longest paved GSRT segment is from Windham to Derry at eight miles (park at Hood Park in Derry or at the Windham Depot in Windham). Other paved GSRT segments include the South Manchester Trail  (.9 miles paved; starts at Perimeter Road, ends at Granite Street) and the Londonderry Trail (about one mile paved, parking available at the Exit 5 Park and Ride and also at the North Elementary School).
Other currently paved trails include the Piscataquog Trail in Manchester (about 2 miles paved; starts around the east bank of the Merrimack River, ends near Electric Ave., with parking available at West Side Arena); the WOW Trail in Laconia (named for the three lakes you’ll see along the pathway — Winnisquam, Opechee and Winnipesaukee), a one-mile asphalt trail that starts at the Laconia Public Library and ends at Elm Street; and the Nashua River Rail Trail, which starts around City Hall and moves 12.5 miles south into Massachusetts.
Dave Topham of the Bike-Walk Alliance of New Hampshire said via phone that, if all goes well, GSRT paving should continue this summer, both to extend the Londonderry segment further north, and also to extend the Windham portion into Salem. 
As seen in the April 23, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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