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The Sk8ologist
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What our sport REALLY needs

Can anybody explain to me why is beach volley included in the summer Olympics programme? Admitted for the 1º time in the Atlanta games (a coincidence?) in 1996, this sport has been experiencing a storming growth in terms of public and sponsors since then.
So the question “Why?” is legitimate, and I have an idea… Just look at your right. Oh, I’m sure it was the very first thing you noticed in this page, wasn’t it? Click on the image for a larger and more sensorially rewarding picture… then come back here when you regain your senses.

Imagine her with speedskates... Yeah!

Happy? Good, that’s exactly what I meant. Now try to imagine a 500 mt. individual pursuit race (like we used to have so many years ago), where the two female athletes wear a nice attire as above, instead of the regular skinsuit of nowadays. Or, if we avoid exagerations, a normal skinsuit that rather ends at the same height of the one that beach volley babe displays up there. How much will you pay the rink’s entrance to be a spectator of THAT show?

No, really, gents: stop clicking at the girls and stay with me. Our sports needs every possible tool to reach the level of popularity it rightly deserves, so why don’t we use the same trick that many others apply so effectively?
Just imagine the kind of promotion it would mean for speedskating if we had an in-lining version of Kournikova, for instance. Does anybody realize that the Russian blonde never won anything at all? Who cares, when every day dozens of young replicas are born all around the world, and they try to reach her achievements?

Did I make my point?

A question of looks

During Italy’s Worlds in 2004, I mentioned the idea to a few high ranked FIRS and CIC officials, and not without surprise I came to know that many of them would like to see it materialized. Ok, don’t dismiss them yet…
World famous coach Bill Begg -among other experts- disagrees, stating that in effect the actual skinsuit offers a protection to the athlete’s leg in case of fall. He surely has a point. My answer (backed up by a couple of doctors' opinions), was that at the speed we race currently, the fabric is so thin that it’s like wearing nothing at all (those of you who experienced asphalt or cement rash know too well).
So I simultaneously promoted a possible solution: at the present time, the textile industry is so advanced (see ice speedskating) that it might be feasible to manufacture a harder and transparent skinsuit for ladies. Not the whole of it, of course: just the lower leg, and perhaps a plunging neckline…

If you’re already considering me crazy –or worse, bear in mind that Mr. Josep Blatter (FIFA’s president) has recently stated that if female footballers use shorter and close-fitting uniforms, their matches would get much more attention from the general public.
Am I the only one in the skating world who sees this lack of marketing opportunities? Not quite: BONT, for one, seems to get the point. And how about Anni Friesinger, Olympic ice champion and german sex-icon?

Anni: godess

Stop there, feminists!

At this point I can hear the clamour of the feminists’ rant and rave, righteously elevating their battle cry against me. Yes, Madame: I know it very well that added to your daily sacrifice you have to suffer chauvinism at every level of this sport… and almost every other sport. The predominance of the self-titled stronger sex (haha! What a joke), it is even more evident in the media coverage of events, sponsors support and prize distribution. But that’s the way it is, and one can wonder if the situation is even promoted by the ladies themselves, since so many of them capitalize in on our testosterone-depending little brains.
Or are you going to tell me that those little speedos that surround the lovely buttocks of beach-volley athletes are ABSOLUTELY compulsory for technical reasons? Give me a break.

In my defence, I will add that an evolution in our sport is in order to satisfy the female spectator too. Not that I would ever want to see a hairy butt (or worse) exposed during a race, but I guess ladies would appreciate a balanced muscled body covered in a more discreet fashion and colours… rather than the hallucinations created by the mind of a stoned hippy so much in vogue these days. I mean: look at this! >>
(actual uniform of one of the biggest italian clubs)


Male skinsuits should be redesigned too, then, especially in the groin area. I personally find extremely annoying and aesthetically unacceptable that hideous sewn line that usually starts at the belly button, and ends around the antipodean region in the back.
True, for ladies that’s not a problem (and for me to look at is a joy!) but that bloody partition line forces me to distribute the ballast one side or the other! (if you must know, I prefer to allow more weight following the internal vector parallel to the radius of the rink).
Practical inconveniences aside: have you ever stop and consider what might think of us a fitness skater that happens to see us for the first time, wearing our kaleidoscopic un-sexy uniforms? Or, for that matter, an 8 year old boy that might be slightly interested in this sport?

Call to arms

Dear skating fashion designers: Please, hear our claim and consider the chances to have our races full of spectators from the general public, not just the usual fanatics. Avoid unisex psychedelic stuff, and give us racing uniforms that can enhance our athletes’ image and our sport standing in the international scene.

Babe Bont

Dear female athletes: for the good of our sport, do not hide your graces but expose them generously. Feeling less than attractive or your modesty restrains you? Know that, in our eyes, you all are BEAUTIFUL! At least while wearing skates…

And please don’t call me sexist. In my times (no skinsuits back then) everyone used to wear speedos or shorts (pushed inside underwear) and tight shirts. It was a great sight, believe me. Nobody missed training sessions, there was no weight distribution problem... And girls were clearly discerned from guys.

M. Bresin (thanks to BONT for the lovely pictures that inspired this article)

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