Modern Times ad Speed Skating by Bill Begg

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MODERN TIMES AND SPEED SKATING   Hi everyone. Recently there has been very interesting and exciting times in the World of speed skating, for someone like myself, who missed the World Championships in Colombia ( only my 3rd missed...since 1975 ) I was so excited to be able to follow the exploits of my favourite skaters via the Internet live. From reports many skating and sports fans alike World wide enjoyed the same coverage.

 It was great as our sport pushes for Olympic inclusion, as we need greater exposure, anyone watching who saw several races, that were won in a lunge finish, with no more than a wheels difference, could do nothing more than admire the skills and physical attributes of these Athletes.
 The changing of the guard as far as the power of the nations was reaffirmed, as for the second Successive  year Colombia and Korea dominated the medal table, over the former two big powers Italy and U.S.A., Italy appears to be on the way back, with a strong group of Juniors.

 Apart from Established senior World champions, Colombians  Alexandra Vivas, Lina Holguin, Berenice Moreno, Jennifer Caicedo, Bridgette Mendez and Kelly Martinez who were still competing. The following joint the select group,  Nicolette Falcone Italy, Brittany Bowe U.S.A. Hyo Woo Sook Korea and Nicole Begg New Zealand, established themselves as World Champions, with great efforts to beat the Powerful Colombians on their home soil.
 Apart from the spectacular racing, another highlight was that Daniel Greig Australia, in winning the road time trial, gave them there first gold since the late Shuan Thompson, who won 3 Junior titles. Also Belguim come to life with Wouter Hebbricht and Junior Bart swings, great to see after a long absence from the top of the podium.
 Chinese Taipei really sparked the championships alive during the relays, with the next World games in Chinese Taipei, they will really be ready, to take on the best in the World.
 Also with skating now in the Asian games, which are very prestigious amongst the Asian Nations, skating will receive the same incentives as other sports, one country, an Asian Gold medal would reward the skater with $250,000, about $150,000 USA. With these kind of incentives at stake, the standard of Asian Skating will rise even further, so Europeans and other Nations, will need to work hard to ensure they keep up with the Asian development, as other Asian nations will strive to reach the World standard of Korea and Chinese Taipei.
 While the racing was great and spectacular, we must keep striving to achieve the same top shelf efforts in Organization and officiating.
 While the Worlds is our Big racing event the World Inline Cup is a Showcase for our sport, also attracting many new faces, with countries like Finland, Estonia, Slovenia becoming more involved, it was pleasing to see Kenyan skaters turn up in Suzhou China to race. The indomitable Italian Maestro Max Presti will Claim his 6th WIC title in 2007, a great effort that requires recognition.
 We see the continued development of many countries like South Africa, India, Russia, Iran, Estonia, Poland, Austria, Finland, Singapore, Slovania and a host of other South American countries, as top coaches from Italy, Colombia, USA, France and New Zealand, spend time sharing their knowledge in a effort to lift the World wide standard.

I was fortunate along with Coni Altherr WIC and other International speakers, to be invited to an open forum organised under the patronage of FIRS in Padua (Italy) by Mr.Sandro Morandin, the president of the Padova organizing club. The discussion was about the acceptance in Europe as a skates as a legal means of transport, was Chaired by the RAI (italian national main TV network) Journalist Luca Ginetto.
 In Switzerland right throughout the country a system of pathways is being added to where you can virtually skate from one side of the country to the other, what's more Skating signs are even sign posted, the same favoured treatment for outdoor skaters can be found at Flemming skate, around the city of Juterborg in Germany, where skating is a big part of the local Area Tourism.
 In Italy there have always been problems, of recreation skaters having places to practice, but the Jesolo area Council representative, Dr. Otello Bergamo outlined what they were doing in support of skating as a means of transport and recreation at one of Italy's top tourist areas and also one of the busiest in traffic flow. To date already in excess of 10 km of purpose built skateways were already in place, with more to follow in the future.
 Lets hope more area councils & governments throughout Europe and also the World and address this matter and make changes to their archaic by laws concerning Roller Skating. Its time that the World accepted that not only Bicycles but Rollerblades are a great means of transport and recreation, which with allowed useage and Government expenditure can help the Greenhouse effect and pollution, by gasoline consumption, plus go a long way towards helping create a healthier society.
 Like the Padova experience, we must continue to work on our sport gaining the recognition and support it deserves, from the IOC, councils and Governments and other bodies to modernize their thinking.
Bill Begg