|The Skating Craze of 1979
So many people took up roller skating in
1979 that it became one of the fastest-growing
pasttimes in North America, with some skate
makers selling more than 300,000 pairs a month.
The primary reason for the
exploding popularity of roller skating was the
use of polyurethane for the making of wheels.
Fitsy used widely on skateboards, polyurethane
wheels made roller skates quieter (than the older
metal-wheeled type). They also made roller skates
lighter, which in turn allowed for greater
With the new wheels, people
moved outdoors for the kind of skating that
before could only have been done on the smooth
surfaces of rinks. The comfortable ride provided
by the wheels also allowed people to skate great
distances -- to travel to and from work, to see
the sights, or to just get some exercise. A
roller skating marathon in Long Beach,
California, attracted entrants ranging in age
from 6 to 60. The fastest racers covered the
26.2-mile course in just under an hour and a
Becoming popular at about the same time
as disco music, it was little surprise that many
people began combining the two, and skating rinks
with state-of-the-art music systems and dee-jays
sprouted up across the country.
Roller skating also found its
way into the "legitimate sports world"
in 1979, at the Pan American Games. For the first
time ever in the Games, skaters competed for
medals in racing and dancing events. Skaters and
fans were lobbying to have roller races and
dancing made part of the Olympic Games.
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