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Get your championship skates on

Wednesday, 13th June, 2018 4:13pm

Forget the World Cup as next month a world-class sporting event is happening right here in Cork.

From 5-8 July, competitors from more than a dozen countries including Russia, Iran, and India will travel to the city’s Mardyke Arena to show their inline figure skating skills at the 2018 Inline Figure Skating World Open and European Championships.

Inline figure skating is a youthful sport, established about 15 years ago for ice skaters who wanted to train in the summer. It’s different from inline skating, or rollerblading, which uses a braking mechanism at the heel and wheels that remain aligned at all times.

Inline figure skates, developed specially by a US company to simulate the experience of skating on ice, have wheels that can move up and down independently and a toe stub in the front that works like a toe pick.

“So literally you can do the same things—jumps and spins, and all the footwork, the dancing moves—you see on the ice,” said Sabrina Vassia, President of the Cork Figure Skating Association.

If you couldn’t see the ground, “you’d actually think they’re on the ice,” she says.

The Cork Figure Skating Association was founded in 2011 and was the first inline figure skating club in Ireland.

Since last year the group has had a dedicated training space on Centre Park Road in Ballintemple.

There’s now a club in Dublin and interest in starting clubs elsewhere in the country, though finding qualified ice skating coaches can be tricky, Ms Vassia said.

She said that, similar to many inline figure skating clubs worldwide, Cork’s has enjoyed rapid growth and expanded from seven skaters to more than 120 today.

“It’s easy for it to grow because you don’t really need the ice. Ice is very limiting – in this country especially, we have no facilities. But you can do inline figure skating on any flat surface,” she added.

The venue for each year’s World Open is chosen by mutual agreement of participating nations. Last year the Irish delegation put in an application to host, and won.

Judges for the competition are trained ice skating judges and will evaluate competitors based on the same criteria used in ice skating: technical skill and artistry.

The programme of events is close to finalised, and will include solo and pair competitions, as well as synchronised group skating events.

The four days will culminate with a gala where all the winners perform a programme showcasing “the best of the best,” said Ms Vassia.

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