This is a re-post from September 2016. I'm happy to say World Skate (formerly FIRS) has now changed the rules, and parabolic tracks arena allowed again at World Champs. 😊 Awesome!
Let's go faster,
Tracks coated with Vesmaco are great! ... but they are having an effect on the style of racing we see and experience. Well, here's my explanation; The advantages are obvious; it's very grippy (so it's safer), it's consistent (so it's safer), it's fast, and it standardises the competitive arena. Good. The disadvantages are not so obvious, but just as important; it reduces the number of over-taking (passing) opportunities, it makes 'power' more beneficial and skills less beneficial, it's expensive and very few places world-wide have it (out of 43 countries at worlds xxx don't have a Vesmaco track, and even if your country does have a Vesmaco track it can be a 5 hour or 10 hour drive to go to that track which you obviously can only do once a month.)
One other detail to note is that FIRS have ruled a few years ago that all tracks should be banked tracks but not parabolic.
These two factors (Vesmaco + banked) means that the racing has been effectively dumbed down. It's now easy to skate defensively and win. It's much more difficult to skate defensively on a parabolic track, because there are so many passing lanes. If you slow down you get passed. Or in other words, the only way to stay in front is to go faster! And that's what we want, right? A PROACTIVE track.
Here's how to win the race (9 times out of 10) in the final couple of laps on a grippy banked track; Get in front, stay close to the inside line, roll in to the corner, accelerate out keeping the door tightly shut. Nobody can get past on the inside, and nobody can pass on the outside. (9 times out of 10)
The reasons put forward by FIRS to use Vesmaco and ban parabolic tracks were;
Standardisation creates a level playing field.
No it doesn't, because very few people train on Vesmaco tracks on a weekly basis. Some countries NEVER train on Vesmaco, so they come to Europeans and Worlds and they have NO chance. ... or they just DON'T come to Worlds or Europeans because they have no chance. This is making the sport smaller and more "elitist", less open to new countries.
There were 43 countries at worlds, at least 26 of them do not have a Vesmaco (or any plastic coated) tracks in their country. That's well over 50%! ... They have to go to another country just to skate on one.
Standardisation means we can compare times and have credible world records.
No it doesn't because as we've seen from the times at Worlds last week, tracks are still very different. Geisingen is MUCH faster than the track in Nanjing.
There is less fighting on banked tracks than parabolic tracks.
No, as we've seen at worlds last week there is still some pushing, grabbing and there is definitely more blocking because of the defensive nature of the banked track. Yet there have been improvements in racing style since the 80's, but that's mainly down to sport development, better refereeing (yes, the refereeing did used to be a lot worse back then), and less bias/corruption than before. The ideal situation is parabolic and/or banked tracks and good refereeing.
So, should we get rid of Vesmaco? NO WAY! It's very good. It's fast, it's grippy, and we LOVE fast and grippy. The solution here is to put Vesmaco on parabolic tracks. This IS possible. The track of the 2012 Worlds in Italy was parabolic. "3Pistes" in France in April has 2 vesmaco coated parabolic tracks.
FIRS would also have to change the rules to allow it. But this shouldn't be a problem, if they understand the issue and have the motivation to change. It would make the sport exciting again. More passing! More opportunities. More open racing.
I challenge FIRS and Vesmaco to change our sport and make it exciting again with 2 changes: Parabolic tracks with Vesmaco.