Freestyle and Slalom Skating

Thanks to Nick Dolan for content!
 
One thing that is certain about this discipline of skating is that very little is set in stone; even a good definition of what it is. The general heading of freestyle would lead one to believe that there were no real rules, however such isn't particularly the case. Freestyle in general is an umbrella for many disciplines, including jumping from the ground for height, jumping off a ramp for height, skating on cones for speed, skating on cones for style, and also using the same cones to pull off the hardest tricks. This video, an overview of a competition in 2007, gives a good general idea of most of what can be found under the umbrella of freestyle.

A good in depth writeup of the more technical aspects of slalom in particular can be found here.

Slalom skating when taken by itself is generally broken down into competitions of two types. One is more artistic and focuses more on style. Competitors will have an amount of time to have music of their choice played while they skate pretty much however they want on lines of cones of the three standard spacings: 50cm, 80cm, and 120cm. Here are two good examples of such:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHWa-12CCTs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yAW_7eEmFo

Then there is also what is called battle. In this competition format the field is broken into generally groups of 3 or 4 skaters who each get 30 seconds to impress the judges either with the beauty of their skating or the complexity of their tricks. They each get 2 or 3 opportunities, followed by a final trick. Then they are ranked by the judges and the field is slimmed down until a final round again of the same format. Here are two good examples of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCL51bqhA2w
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-TGr1k3b9k

And of course there are variants, such as routines done by multiple skaters simultaneously and even slalom done on rollerskates.

Finding buddies for freestyle skating can be challenging as clubs or teams are few and far between, at least in the USA. Locally here in Seattle there are quite a few people, mostly loosely affiliated with Skate Journeys the skating school in Bellevue. For people on the eastside there are regular sessions outside, weather permitting, either at the pad at Marymoor park or at Lake Hills Park Community Center located at 1200 164th Ave. S.E., Bellevue. Certain parts of the year will see a semi-regular gathering down by the Seattle Center for those of us who live in Seattle proper. On Monday and Wednesday nights the Lynnwood Bowl and Skate ($6, 18+ only they are "adult night" skates) is receptive to having cones put out as long as they are on the marks in the middle and dont cause too much discontent amongst the locals who dont want to participate. Being friendly with the locals however has generated a lot of interest; in the two hours normally 10+ people will take a shot at the cones at least briefly. The rink would probably be receptive to cones at a non-adult only session but we haven't discussed it with them as we currently have no sub 18 participants. Other rinks in western Washington are unknown, other than Bellevue's Skate King which is not receptive to cones. A decent source for information wherever you live is the forum of the USFSA.