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Using the Grass to Save Your ...

By Allan Wright, owner of Zephyr Inline Skate Tours

Picture this.  You are cruising down your favorite path on inline skates, enjoying the rhythm of your stroke and the wind in your hair.  The trail winds through a field with a stream on one side and grass on the other.  Up ahead the path crosses a road and sports one of those stop signs you wish wasn’t there to disrupt your skate.  Knowing you would rather get home for a dinner of mushroom tortellini, Greek Salad, and French Bread (I hope I’m not losing anyone here with the multi-ethnic menu choice) than end up in the hospital, you decide to stop.

How to go about it?  You have a sling of choices in the stopping category.  You can use that brake they put on the back of one of your skates.  You can also do as many advanced skaters do and drag one skate behind you in a T-stop.  If you are at all like me, though, the sound of the brake grinding on asphalt or your wheels sliding on concrete somehow gives you the sensation of leaving so much rubber on the trail that you soon will be making a trip to the skate store for replacement parts.

How do I stop? I use that friendly grass on the side of the path.  I’m not talking about an enter-the-grass, start-running-until-your-feet-can’t-keep-up-with-you tumble.  I’m talking about the advanced stopping technique called the grass stop.

I strongly recommend learning all stopping techniques as you never know which will come in handy.  However, the grass stop is an excellent tool to use when you can see in advance that you will need to stop and have a convenient patch of grass on the side.

To perform a grass stop, follow these steps:

  •       Continue rolling forward on the pavement in a “ready position” as you angle toward the grass.  The “ready position” involves bending at the knees and lowering your center of gravity.

  •       Scissor your feet so that one skate (not the one with your ABT brake if you have one of those) is ahead of the other skate but not out to the side.

  •       Roll straight into the grass, lowering your center of gravity even more and sitting back with your weight on your heels as you enter.

  •       Roll to a stop.

Why the ready position? The bending at the knees gives you more control to absorb little bumps.  Lowering your center of gravity and leaning slightly back is a counter to the desire of your body to keep flying forward while your skates slow in the grass. Why the scissoring? The scissoring helps you with forward-backward stability in addition to your natural side-to-side stability.

Try this a few times at slower speeds and with wide open grass areas.  As you get the hang of it, increase your speed.  It might help to watch a friend who has already mastered the grass stop.

As you get better, you can use the “grass stop” to improve your skating in all sorts of ways.  Crossing railroad tracks or skating through gravel patches on roads involves the same skills.  Mastering the grass stop will not only give you another stopping technique but will improve your overall skating.

Copyright 1998 by Allan Wright and Zephyr Inline Skate Tours Inc


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