BoarderCross, BladerCross, InlineCross, SkateCross, obstacle races on skates changed names over the years. The practice structured little by little and has now become a recognized discipline with world series. History…
From Salomon to Seba: Brand involvement
Composition of a skatecross course
It is largely inspired by already existing ski and snowboard competitions. It can be set up on flat grounds or downhill. Skatecross courses recreate the urban world with its obstacles. There is no actual rule: There can be skatepark modules (quarterpipes, fun boxes, jump boxes, flatbanks…) but also more rudimentary props like bales of straw, car wrecks, tires, crash barriers…
Some recent competitions took place on asphalt coated BMX race tracks, like in Moscow, Russia, and on dirt tracks like in Liège, Belgium with the Dirt Skate Cross. You can even use an already existing skatepark or a bowl like in Marseille, France.
Most of the time, a run lasts between 30 and 60 seconds.
Lausanne: The mythical place for skating and skatecross
It’s hard to talk about skating without mentioning the European capital, Lausanne!
The Swiss city was the scene of a few spectacular rollercrosses with the best skaters of the world at the time, such as the Lenoir brothers, Wilfried Rossignol…
The least to say is that with the relief of the city, downhills were made good use of!
The prelude of a series: The U2R in 2002
The Monop Urban Roller Races (U2R) laid the bases of modern skatecrosses. The main difference with the current races is that the U2R used to take place downhill on courses of 400 to 800 meters. The skaters arrived full speed on the modules.
Amongst the big events, let’s remember:
• Paris where the skaters would race in the streets of Montmartre
• Lyon in the downhill streets of La Croix-Rousse
… Let’s not forget the Roll’Heures 2002 with its Blader Cross around the Trocadéro in Paris!
Originally: A promotional campaign
In 2002, Salomon launched the FSK range on the skating market, ‘FSK’ for ‘Freeskate’: A versatile range of skates, half-way between street and fitness. They all had a compact frame with 76 to 80 mm wheels in a hi-lo set-up, and reinforced but light shells. Amongst the various models, the Crossmax and the Deemax…
In 2003, the French brand started the Salomon Freeskate Festival to promote its new key-skate, the FSK. The first year was disrupted by the rain. The 2004 edition was better despite the changing weather and was enough to rank the skaters, the competition was won by Greg Mirzoyan.
The black and yellow brand invaded the slopes of the Trocadéro in Paris with gigantic modules. Groups of 4 to 6 skaters would skate down the slopes to reach the bottom as fast as possible. On their way, huge street modules they had to dodge to gain a few tenths. The qualification phase was timed and the final phases gathered several skaters head to head. The event was as much for the race than for the show, the skaters would get a huge kick out of going for rotation jumps at warm-ups and sometimes during the competitions!
The buying of Salomon by AMER Sports in 2005 marked the end of the skating branch. It was a hard blow for passionate skaters, Salomon supported the French market and largely invested in research and development, as well as in promotion. It was the beginning of several years of wavering…
Free organizations taking up the challenge
When Salomon stopped its skating activity, several groups of skaters continued the tradition in organizing boarder crosses during major events such as Rennes sur Roulettes or the 24 Hours of Le Mans Roller, from 2003 to 2005. The RollerFR and MAP associations were the most dynamic. In 2005, an Urban Roller Cross was organized in Rennes, France.
Skate Cross renovated by SebaSkates
It wasn’t until 2011 that the practice knew a second wind. Following the logics of Salomon, Seba initiated Skate Cross and the World Skate Cross Series.
Skaters challenge one another on international series with competitions throughout the world. Each event gives more or less points according to its status: 1, 2 or 3 stars. See the point ranking system here. The skater with the more points wins the general ranking.
The basic rules of Skate Cross
During the qualifications, each skaters has two timed runs. They go one by one and have to do the best time as possible. Only the best attempt is kept for the general ranking of the qualifications. According to their ranking, the skaters go through to the final phases.
During the final phases, the qualified skaters (usually 8 / 16 / 32 / etc.) race in groups of 4. The first 2 of each group are qualified for the next round and the last 2 are knocked out of the competition.
The skaters wear bibs with colors according to their ranking and choose their place on the start line in the following order: red, yellow, green, blue.
During the group race phases, the skaters cannot push one another, pull the bibs of their opponents… However, race contacts are tolerated. Judges will systematically analyze the contested cases: If they consider that a mistake has been done, the skaters can be disqualified from the run in being re-ranked 4th.
It is important to wait for the official and final results, approved by the judges, after the end of each run.
All types of skates are allowed, quads and inlines.
Skatecross skaters come from different disciplines: downhill, slalom, freeride, aggressive skating… Until now, skatecross courses have favored the skaters more at ease on modules, the street skaters! According to the setup of the course, one profile will be favored over the others.
Skatercross is physical and requires tonic and explosive power, especially at the starts to get out of the flat bank and place yourself, but also to speed up when exiting bends. You need a good technical level to cross skatepark obstacles full speed amongst other skaters. You should know how to choose your lines, like in speed or downhill skating. Last but not least, a little bit of tactical sense can help you make the most of an opportunity. All in all, you need to be versatile enough!
The world series are structured and the discipline of skatecross is even recognized by the French Federation of Roller Sports. The French are part of the best skaters in the world, with Anthony Avella and Mathilde Monneron.
Skatecross has a bright future ahead. It’s an easy race format to organize whatever the place. You don’t need big modules to create fun competitions adapted to different levels. A few recovered props and a bit of imagination is all you need to create countless varied courses.
It wouldn’t be surprising if in the future off-road and/or BMX race track series were created. After all, there are over 250 practicable tracks in France and no specific adjustment is needed! That would be a good solution to pool means with other disciplines!
A few videos
Dirt Skate Cross in Liège, Belgium, 2014
WSX in Lyon, France, 2014
World Cross in Moscou in 2013
Photos : Alfathor, Julien Ermine
RollerFR, WSX, Colin Morin