A demanding yet aesthetically beautiful sport where one dances to the music with grace, poise and agility, combined with strength and celerity, Artistic Roller Skating is an Internationally recognized sport which tests the individuals on so many intricate levels. It is very similar to Figure Skating or Ice Skating where the performer does jumps, spins, turns and other skillsets according to the theme of the program. The only difference being the type of flooring and the kind of skates being worn by the skater.
Arun Sathianarayanan, a National Champion for the last six years, talks exclusively about the reception of Artistic Roller Skating and his future for the sport. Arun has represented India in more than six International Championships. He has also participated in many Asian Championships, where he won the Silver in the 2018 South Korean Championship and Bronze in the Chinese tournament in 2016. His personal best in International summits was when he placed 11th in 2016 Italy World Championship.
People don’t realize the beauty of the sport yet since it’s not as popular as cricket or football. They might think artistic roller skating to be a stage sHOw…
- How did you get introduced to the roller-skating community in Chennai? Can you talk about your love for the sport?
I first started Skating at marina beach skating rink… it was very famous around that time at the beach. Later it just grew on me honestly. Starting to skate is difficult but once I started with artistic roller skating, it was beautiful. It gave me the freedom to perform whatever I want and showcase my skills rather than running races like in the speed skating discipline.
- How long have you been performing Artistic roller skating?
I started artistic roller skating back in 2005… it’s been a bumpy 15 years so far and I have fallen in love with the sport more than ever.
- How does a Solo dance performance go about? What are the scoring avenues and what is the timing for one performance?
So solo dance is an event where there are 2 programs. The first program we perform is called the style dance where we will be given a syllabus to skate on, (which basically is specific skating elements like turns and edges or patterns to follow) about a year before the competition where we will have to perform an already given European style dance . The duration of this program is about 3 minutes.
The second program is called the free dance and here we have the freedom of choosing our own style but will have to perform the skill set elements that is required in the syllabus. The duration of this is 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
Even though the timing of the programs seems less, the content we need to perform takes up and drains almost all the energy of a skater if he doesn’t have the proper amount of conditioning and workouts to keep up his stamina.
- What do you think about the reception of Roller skating in India and Chennai, in particular? Do people recognize it as an international sport?
Roller skating as a sport in India and Chennai has increased tremendously compared to 10 years ago but artistic roller skating is still under the hood. There are thousands of speed skaters in India while there only 300-400 artistic skaters in the country. People don’t realize the beauty of the sport yet since it’s not as popular as cricket or football. They might think artistic roller skating to be a stage show when it is not. When I say I am an international medal winner in roller skating people think I am speed skater which sums up the knowledge in this area.
Could you describe your usual practice routine? Where do you practice?
I skate at the Shenoy Nagar skating rink near Ampa Skywalk mall. I used to skate from 4:30 to 7:30 in the morning and 6:30 to 9:30 in the evening when I was in school but after college, I could only skate one session either in the morning or evening which does not include my workout schedule.
What kind of gear does one have to wear in order to perform artistic skating?
Artistic roller skaters need artistic roller skates which is different from normal roller skates. We usually wear costume according to the style and theme we must perform.
- How does it feel to represent India in International summits? Can you name some of the countries where you have performed previously?
I feel proud and it gives me immense pleasure when I win for the country too. I have been to New Zealand, Taipei and Italy for world championships and to China and South Korea for Asian championships. I have also ice skated for a few years and have won an Asian medal in ice skating at Bangkok.
- How do you manage your academics and your skating career? Do you have any plans to get into the sport full-time in the future?
Managing academics and skating is not that hard to be honest. I mean it is not like I am the smartest kid in my class, but I try to pass all my papers and score decently and study whenever I can. Skating probably helped me manage my time with academics too.
Getting into the sport full time is difficult when it comes to artistic skating. We only have the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) supporting us financially. With no other sponsors it is impossible to take it full time. I have also started coaching at the same skating rink where I skate to increase the quality and the quantity of skaters for the betterment of the sport and its future. So, possibilities are that I will continue to coach indefinitely even if I start to work.
- In retrospect do you think the sport is gaining more popularity now. What do you think the future holds for Artistic skating?
Yes, the sport is gaining popularity in all states in India. We are having new skaters from different states every year and it is a sign of positive expansion in the country. If the rate keeps increasing, then this sport could take everyone great places honestly.
The rules and regulations of the sport is getting harder for it to be included as an Olympic sport by 2024. That will be a huge step forward and a massive popularity in terms of quantity of skaters that will become interested in the sport.
- Right now, the roller-skating community seems closely knit and remote from the public. How do you think one can introduce this sport to potential enthusiasts?
- Yes it is remote from the public… to get through that we are together working since last year and our plan for this to reach people is to host club championships in different places in the city and state, sending senior skaters to different districts in and around Tamil Nadu to conduct Seminars and workshops to share and spread the idea of artistic roller skating to the people who don’t know it properly. The point is only to reach people and letting them know that this sport exists because lack of information is the only reason, we haven’t become popular yet.