The Olympic Status of Inline and Roller Sports

Inline roller skater
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Every sport wants Olympic status and roller sports (including inline) are among them. Climbing, bridge, golf, roller sports and surfing are among the sports that are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The International Sports Federations that govern these sports have to make sure that their rules, practices and activities adhere to the Olympic Charter.

Efforts by the roller sports world governing body, the Federation Internationale de Roller Sports (FIRS), to earn Olympic status for any of its disciplines were limited at the end of the 20th century. FIRS didn't push the promotional envelope when quad hockey was a demonstration sport in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Now, in the U.K., the British Inline Skater Hockey Association (BiSHA) is working with other disciplines to form one governing body with the aim of achieving Olympic status. BiSHA has now achieved Sports Council recognition and forms part of British Roller Sports Federation (BRSF) – the governing body for roller skating disciplines.

FIRS' attempts to get Olympic status became most active around 2000, when inline speed skating was promoted as the most suitable roller sport for the Olympics. Competition from at least 20 other sports also seeking entry into the Olympics – at a time when they were trying to reduce the number of participating sports – kept chances of entry very slim. Since inline racing didn't get Olympic status, many inline speed skaters have switched from inline to ice speed skating to get a shot at Olympic participation.

Softball and baseball were seeking reinstatement after being voted off the agenda for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Roller sports joined them in the battle for two spots on the Olympic program for 2016. Golf, squash, karate and seven-a-side rugby were the other contenders. All seven sport federations received letters, requesting their presentations of their sport in October of 2009, when the International Olympic Committee assembles at Copenhagen. At this time, golf and rugby are the sports of choice for 2016.

The Federation Internationale de Rollersports (FIRS), which includes inline speed skating, roller figure skating and roller derby, is now vying for a spot in the 2020 Olympic Games. A total of eight sports, including baseball and softball, the two sports that were removed after the 2008 Games and voted off the agenda for the 2012 Games will be considered. The other six sports are wakeboard, squash, sport climbing, rollersports, karate and the martial art of wushu. These sports will be evaluated in early 2013. One sport will be voted on from the final list in late 2013 at the IOC session in Buenos Aires.

In the years following the Olympic appearances of Joey Cheek, Derek Parra, Jennifer Rodriguez, Chad Hedrick and others, it has been common for inline speed skaters with Olympic dreams to trade in their big wheels for ice blades. After many seasons of inline racing accomplishments, many other inline racers like Jessica Lynn Smith, Meaghan Buisson and Katherine Reutter were forced to look at new opportunities in the ice speed skating disciplines and cross train on ice in an effort to open up some Olympic opportunities that may not ever develop for them in the inline speed skating world, since inline racing is not yet an Olympic sport.