Rollerblades: A Post-Mortem

The rise and fall (mostly fall) of the ubiquitous rollerblade
By Sarah Whitmire,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2011 12:25 PM CDT
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 21: A man rollerblades on Fifth Avenue, which has been designated for use only by 'essential vehicles' December 21, 2005 in New York City. City transit workers decided to strike for...   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Flash back to the year 2000, a time of Discmans, Spandex, and ... rollerblades. Believe it or not, a whopping 22 million Americans wore rollerblades at least once during that year, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. But by 2010, the number of rollerblades wearers plummeted 64%, a nosedive second only to roller hokey, which dropped 65%. “No scandal befell Rollerblading … No celebrity lost a limb in the line of in-line skating," writes Rachel Bachman for The Oregonian. So what happened?

Skates with in-line wheels were first created in 1980 to help hockey players train in the off-season. From 1987 to 1995, participation exploded 634%, making it the country's fastest-growing sport. But massive demand meant new manufacturers entered the market, many pushing out skates that weren't as well made. Rollerblades were difficult for many to get used to, especially those accustomed to old-school quad skates. "No Rollberblading" signs began popping up, and the sport was removed from the X Games in 2005. "Nudged by various forces," writes Bachman, "it simply slowly went downhill.”

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