Bossier inline speed skating team going for nationals
When you hear speed skating, the first few images to come to mind are probably ice and the Winter Olympics. But a local team shows speed skating can thrive off the ice, too.
Inline speed skating has carved out a niche with enthusiasts in Bosser-Shreveport.
“It's a different world,” said Donna Johnson, parent of team members Jacob and Anna — the sixth fastest relay team in the nation.
If you're not in the know, the sport may seem like a new one. However, the “Sprinters” was headquartered in Bossier-Shreveport in late 90's before going defunct several years ago.
Since then, a satellite team of the Austin, Texas-based “Texas Speed” has been established.
Coach Kyle Davey moved to the area shortly after the Sprinters collapsed and helped keep the sport alive.
“I grabbed the kids from (the team) and took it over,” said Davey. “I had been doing it since I was 10-years-old and just wanted to keep doing it.”
Inline speed skating's lack of widespread popularity has created a very tight-knit community.
“Because there are so few of us, there are always familiar faces. You know who your competition is,” said Johnson.
Racer Angela Franklin also enjoys the built-in community that comes with playing a non-marquee sport.
“It's really small here, especially in Shreveport-Bossier. It's bigger in other states and the USA team competes across the world. It can be big, but in the US we are (a small sport),” said Franklin.
Davey described the teams the compete as a big family.
“When you get to national level, I see the same people every year and it's grown a lot in the last five years. I think a lot of people want that,” he said.
The individual-based sport consists of two classifications: indoor and outdoor.
Indoor races are based on heats with the number of laps determined by age classification. Competitions are mainly held in indoor skating rinks. For example, nationals would be the equivalent of skating on an area the size of Bossier City's CenturyLink Center.
Outdoor is seasonal and consists of a predetermined, closed-track route. The size of the map equates to three laps constituting a half-marathon (13 miles) or six laps equaling a full-marathon (26 miles). Skaters are placed pole position with the low time winning.
Franklin has been competing in speed skating “her whole life.”
“I started in 1998 when Hot Wheels at the corner of North Gate and Old Minden Road was built. I was just going up there every weekend and the coach was watching and he asked me to join,” she said.
After quitting in 2000 to take a decade off, she eventually returned, noting the sport plays to her competitive streak.
“It's always fun, no matter how many people are involved. There's always someone to skate against,” said Franklin.
Conditioning is intense and can be closely compared to that of track.
A common exercise is the team will park at one end of the walking track by the Red River and skate back and forth. They also train with various off-skate exercises consisting of sprinting, plyometrics, and running.
The team is currently preparing for regionals in May, where winners will go to nationals.
“When training gets that intense, some of the newer skaters drop off,” said Johnson. “But new skaters usually get eased into the team.”
The team is currently comprised of 15 members, but welcomes new ones at all times.
To join, show up with your skates at Bossier City's Hot Wheels, 3000 Old Minden Rd., during practices every Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“It's the ultimate individual sport,” said Johnson.
“It's all on you,” added Davey.