The sound of a shot fired triggers the racers to fly out of their starting position. No, it’s not horse racing, or NASCAR—it’s speed skating.
Inline speed skating originated from the hobby of four-wheel quad skating, which became popular in the 1970s.
Shortly after came the transition from wooden wheels to clay wheels, and then to plastic wheels, and in 1991, it further transitioned to inline skates, being faster and smoother.
Inline skating quickly took over, and it elevated the sport.
Speed skates are often custom-molded to the feet of the skater. They are made of leather, carbon fiber and have aluminum frames that attach the 110 mm wheels to the skate. The wheels are made of polyurethane, a type of durable plastic. The speed skates have very low ankle support, allowing skaters to bend and turn at sharp edges.
Local venues have specialized the sport of speed skating, among these Cal Skate of Milpitas, which has been operating since 1977. On Feb. 26 and 27, Cal Skate of Milpitas hosted the Southwest Pacific League Meet, where teams across the state participated in team relays and individual races.
Participating in the events is CSU East Bay’s very own Nastassia Hamor.
In the Southwest Pacific League Meet, Hamor placed first in the sophomore and above Ladies’ Open, second in the 500-meter, 1000-meter race, and two-mix relay race, and took third in the 1000-meter Grand Champions race.
The sophomore and member of the CSUEB cross-country and track team has been a member of the Milpitas speed team for ten years and has been skating for 15 years.
“I got into speed skating by hanging out at the local skating rink [Cal Skate of Milpitas],” said Hamor.
“I’d wait for my mom or dad to come pick me up, and I would watch a little bit of speed skating practice. Once I skated my first meet, I was hooked.”
The season for Hamor and the rest of the Milpitas Speed Team is year round, lasting from October to September. Currently, the team is preparing for Nationals, which will take place from July 16-18 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The coach of the Milpitas Speed Team, Deborah Apers, has been managing the team for 20 years and has been a speed skater for 35 years. Her team had been preparing for the Southwest Pacific League Meet since October.
“Our team performed really well this weekend, especially our veterans such as Nastassia,” said Apers.
“She’s a great advocate for the sport; she just loves it. Her love and her passion for skating have helped her to get to where she is.”
Hamor has raced in seven indoor national championships, six outdoor National Championships and two World Championships: 2005 in Suzhou and 2009 in Haining, both in China.< /p>
“Speed skating is a great sport for people of all ages to get into because it is fun, you get to meet new people, it is challenging, it teaches you focus and teamwork as well as leadership, and patience,” said Hamor.
“Speed skating is also a very competitive sport and you get opportunities to travel.”
Hamor, along with the Milpitas Speed Team, competes locally, nationally and internationally.
Speed skating has its own world championships and is a sport in the Pan American Games.
Cal Skate of Milpitas is doing its part in getting the sport known in and around the Bay. They are always accepting new and experienced skaters, and they offer a weekly “Learn To Speed Skate” class ran by the Milpitas Speed Team members and coaches.
Nastassia Hamor will be the head of the roller-blading club at CSUEB, set to start in the spring quarter.
Accessible to almost all ages, good for your health, and the opportunity for a fast paced adrenaline experience, it’s no wonder why speed skating is rapidly growing in interest, size and popularity.