Quad figure skating is a branch of roller figure skating (often called artistic skating) which emerged as a competitive discipline very slowly. James Plimpton invented the quad skate in 1863, and this new four-wheeled skate provided greater control and were easier to use than the inline skated designs of that era. By the 1880s, ice skating instructors were hired by roller rinks to teach skating basics to beginners and figure skating maneuvers to advanced skaters on the more maneuverable quad skates.
Today's roller sports includes quad figure skating on skate plates or frames that support 4 wheels – two in front and two in back – with or without a rubber toe-stop, depending on the skating activity. These plates are mounted on figure skating boots that are the same style as those used by ice figure skaters. The quality of quad figure skating has grown with the development of high quality quad figure skating equipment and customizations that allow skaters to perform very difficult maneuvers that are similar to or the same as those done on ice.
In this figure sport, the competitors execute program requirements on quad skates. Many championships are combined with inline figure skating, since both disciplines can use the same type of skating surface with similar free skating, dance and creative events. But there are also inline only events like the Paris Open that do not allow any quad activities. Quad and inline figure skating is currently governed on the international level by the Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports, which includes both skating styles at its world championships. Quad figure skaters around the world are now performing double, triple and even quad jumps, a range of edge spins, interesting choreography and even some content items that are unique to quad skating. Skaters also perform all of the senior level dances, pairs requirements and compulsory figures on quad skates.
Roller enthusiasts choose quad figure skating for many reasons:
- Artistic roller skating is challenging
- Quad figure activities have more competitive skating opportunities than inline figure skating
- Figure skating on quads is less expensive than ice figure skating
- There are many opportunities to travel
- Quad figure can be an on-going non-competitive activity
Artistic skaters can join a club, skate with friends or skate alone. Quad figure skates are expensive, but new entry level skates or carefully selected used equipment is affordable. You should learn the basics first, then benefit from proficiency testing or competitive training for artistic figure skating.
Many wonder whether it is easier to roller skate on quads or inline skate on rollerblades. The kind of skating that really interests you will determine the exact type of training (if any), style of skates and other gear you will need for your chosen roller sports. Take a look at some of the activities that can be done on quad skates:
- Recreational and social quad skating includes a variety of activities for skaters of all ages and skating levels.
- Quad fitness skating combines serious skating for medical, mental or physical benefits with fun skating for pure pleasure.
- Quad speed skating is still a recognized competitive discipline – even though participation has significantly declined.
- Quad figure skating is a type of figure skating that is often called artistic skating.
- Vertical roller skating is just as exciting as aggressive inline.
- Several styles of dance, gymnastics and skating blend to create the jam skating style.
- Rhythm skating is a soul-based skating style that emerged along the same timeline as the Motown sound experience.
- JB skating originated in Chicago with skating to the soul music sounds of the legendary "Godfather of Soul," James Brown.
- Quad roller derby has taken the sports world by storm and appears to be the fastest growing roller sport today.
- Quad rink roller hockey is a popular year-round sport at amateur, scholastic, and professional levels.
Use the information above to see the range of quad roller skating sports, then take a look at the inline sports opportunities. If you are not sure that your interests will be dedicated to a specific skating type, start by building a good foundation in recreational or fitness activities and training. Most rinks allow you to rent traditional or speed quad skates in beginner skating lessons, so you can find out which type of skate you prefer.