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Elderly gentlemen in the wake of the Supergirls - Inline skating is a fun sport!

THE WEDNESDAY COLUMN

2001-06-20

Hanpeter Detmer writes about the separation of female and male elite skaters at the start. In the spring a major upset happened at the Hansaplast Marathon Hamburg when the first female skaters who crossed the line were disqualified because they started with the fastest man and drafted.

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I understand that there are still some people who think that speed-skating is just for fun. They can only be the same people who have never experienced the horrendous effects of cracks in asphalt, loose chippings or patches of damp on the road. However, for anyone who has not yet experienced for himself that speed skating is a harsh sport and still believes he is addicted to a fun sport, all enjoyment must have vanished completely after the Spring marathons in Hamburg and Hanover. It used to be quite normal for men and women to race alongside each other at inliner marathons, but since the beginning of this year the chief umpires have achieved total separation of the sexes. Gone are the times when you used to see them in twos, threes, fours or fives, etc. Of course, it wasn really fair, what some young ladies did! All for emancipation, but as soon as it was a question of prize money, world cup points or the like, they let themselves be carried along in the wake of the men. Ladies, thats just not fair! I mean, anyone who doesn find a partner, doesn stand a chance.

Now there are already discussions going on about the Berlin Inline Marathon on 30 September. For example: Should the women start on the left of An der Urania, the men on the right (this would only be the case for those who complete the 42 marathon kilometres in less than 1:30h). And in the middle a broad green patch of no-mans land?

At a first glance, this Berlin line-up for the start might not seem as delightful as the separation of the sexes practised at the European age-group championships in Hannover in May. Here it was quite simply: Women at the back! Did the machos in their brightly coloured body-condoms not want to run the risk that the women would steal the show?

The speedy ladies had no choice but to skate in the lee of the grey-templed gentlemen starting in front of them. Of course, one shouldn underestimate the experience of these respectable gentlemen on roller skates. But their "spoiler" effect, however large, did not produce sufficient wake for the fast girls. Instead, the ladies lost precious time having to overtake them.

One mans loss is another mans gain. The greying gentlemen had long lived in hope that the ladies would attack them from behind! How wonderful to skate in the wake of a gazelle, better still in the wake of a whole herd of gazelles! Whereas previously, at the most, they only had a very brief glimpse of the super-figured supergirls at the start, now they had a chance to follow the young girls for several kilometres. The ageing gentlemen even forgot to measure their pulse regularly, their hearts were beating so furiously. And many a man was known to have broken his own personal record.

So please note: When strict sporting rules have to be observed, skating can become a fun sport again!

Hanspeter Detmer


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