Ice skates and roller skates have mirrored each other for centuries. The first pair of roller skates, known as “dry land skates” was created in Holland in the late 1700s by a Dutch inventor who wanted to skate in the summer after the canals had thawed. Since then, both ice and roller skates have taken inspiration from each other.
Both skates started out as blades or wheels on a platform that attached to the shoes, and eventually morphed into fitted leather boots. Blades or wheels on metal plates could then be riveted on to the sole of the boot. Boots were typically made of soft leather that broke in easily, and were intended for recreational or light-duty skating. Area skating was a popular pastime until the 1980s when roller hit its peak in the disco era. Ice and roller skates were nearly identical, the main difference being that roller skate wheels were set in pairs, now referred to as “quads.”
Both types of skates evolved immensely in the 80s with the fitness craze and outdoor skating taking the place of jogging. Quads were seen as clunky and uncomfortable. Inline skates were created to mimic hockey skates, enabling roller skaters to perform similar quick moves and footwork. Ice skating boots were made out of plastic, letting beginners skate easily without ankle strain, and buckles and Velcro replaced tedious laces.
By the 1990s, artistic quad roller-skating made a comeback, and was popular with figure skaters. The PIC and Triax companies came out with inline roller figure skates, which are lighter and shorter than traditional inline skates. The latest version includes a toe stop for advanced maneuvers, letting the skater execute jumps and spins without the ice.