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Blockie talks ramp skating!

Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I'm pretty sure every human in the known derbyverse spent a good portion of last month staring at this video of Estro Jen in awe (my rough calculations estimated the ratio to be about 70% skills-awe, 30% skating booty-awe). If you've SOMEHOW missed it, you can witness the awesomeness for yourself, right here:

I'd seen her skate ramps before but found myself overcome with terror at the thought of attempting it on all previous occasions. For some reason, this time it stirred something in me and I decided to spend my off season becoming the next Estro Jen.

Of course, what this actually equated to was spending my off season nervously standing at the top of a half pipe, making uneasy noises and daring myself to drop in before inevitably bailing at the last second and instead sliding down the half-pipe on my side in the fetal position.*

*dramatic re-telling. It totally wasn't that bad, but I'm in no way the next Estro like I ludicrously imagined.

My overarching philosophy on derby is that anything you can do on rollerskates will make you better at roller derby. Bonnie D Stroir declared it when I went to one of her bootcamps four years ago and I took it more to heart than any other piece of advice I’ve ever received. With this in mind, I’ve spent a lot of time practicing tricks like jumps, some figure skating stuff, side surfing, and backwards stuff. However, this year my quest delivered me to the great sport of ramp skating.

“In what way does ramp skating make you better at roller derby?” you might be asking, you cynical cynic, you. Okay, so it doesn’t per se, but what it does do is help you learn how to control yourself in very nearly out of control situations, how to adapt your centre of gravity, how to manoeuvre your body on wheels in a different way, and how to not abuse your toe stops. Plus, it’s really freaking fun!

If you’re considering trying it out for the first time, I’d definitely recommend checking out an indoor skate park like Ramp Attak in Geebung. It’s a super safe space, the skating surfaces are all clean and in good repair, and the people there are, in my experience, really respectful. Still, you’re definitely going to want to take your entourage with you. 

There’s a great resource for newbs on Rollergirl.ca – their Aggressive Skating 101 PDF contains a lot of info about some different stuff you can do when you first start skating, pointers on visiting a skate park, and some dos and don’ts to keep in mind.

The first couple of times I went, my butt and coccyx got thoroughly tenderised – I just couldn’t figure out how to keep myself upright. What I realised was that I was trying to maintain good derby form – hips back, butt down – simply out of habit. In ramp skating, however, your weight needs to be much further forward – you lean forward and keep your weight further over your front trucks than your back. Little tweaks like this totally teach you how to use your skates differently, and how to keep yourself in control when your weight shifts over your skates. It also presents you with many opportunities to defend quads and poo-hoo inlines, if that’s your thing.

And so, I present to you the fruits of our off-season labour: Hanzilla brought her Go Pro camera to a few of our sessions and The Ugly Duckling edited it into a video that I think you’ll agree makes Estro look like a TOTAL GREENHORN...

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