Summer skating in the city
Written by: Michal Procházka
There's no need to introduce in-line roller skates at length here. Czechs love skating - especially with a hockey stick, and a puck - so they've very quickly taken this new sport as their own.
IN-LINE SKATING is especially appreciated by people for whom just gliding across ice in the winter isn't enough. Here's a bit of good advice on how and where to get a taste of this graceful sport, and ways to enjoy it safely.
Boot, liner: It pays to choose high-quality skates. Very good skates sell for about CZK 5,000, and older models are often discounted. The boot must fit perfectly, and the liner needn't be removable if there is some other way to air out the boot.
Frame, bearings, and wheels: A metal frame holds up better under load than a plastic one, and bear in mind that you'll eventually have to replace the bearings. In general, the larger the diameter the better the wheels are for recreational skating over longer distances, while smaller wheels are better for more technical skating.
Protective gear: Brand-name helmets, knee and elbow pads, and wrist protectors are best. Remember, even good skaters can encounter the unexpected and take a nasty spill.
Clothing: Choose clothes that won't interfere with your movements, but that offer some protection from injury.
Where to skate?
The main problem in our city is the shortage of car-free paths with good surfaces. Skates are rented at all the places mentioned below. Rentals range from CZK 50 to 80 an hour, and all rentals require either at least two forms of identification or a returnable deposit from CZK 500 to 3,000.
Ladronka: The path between Vypich and the Strahov television tower is ideal for beginners and less experienced recreational skaters. It's two kilometers long and flat, with a perfectly refurbished surface. There's no need to worry about pedestrians and baby carriages, as they have their own separate part of the path. There's a rental facility and a school under the TV tower.
Telemark-czech, in-line rentals and school, In-Line park Ladronka, Prague 6, tel.: 777 072 734, 775 082 858. www.telemark-czech.cz.
Right bank of the Vltava: This ten-kilometer path, from the Fred and Ginger building (Jiráskovo náměstí), winds up in Modřany, and then you can continue on a bike path to Komořany. If you start downtown, you have to skate on a difficult surface until the viaduct beneath Vyšehrad. After that there's smoother asphalt, but you have to watch out for the rolling nature of the surface, as well as traffic lights and the gas station. A shop with rentals isn't far from the Pobřežní cesta tram stop.
Hoffi sport shop, Modřanská 120, Prague 4, tel.: 244 466 841, 603 440 527, fax: 272 773 142, www.hoffi.cz.
Letná: While one of Prague's first in-liner locations, lately there's been a clear effort to push skaters aside onto a 500-meter flat track. Beginners may find it difficult to move among other skaters, strollers, and dogs - not to mention natural and man-made obstacles. Nevertheless, Letná is still popular, and the surface quality has been improved on at least parts of the paths. That's why two rental facilities can stay in business: one near the National Museum of Technology and the other in the Sparta Praha stadium complex.
In-Line rentals and shop, Milady Horákové 98, Prague 7, tel. 603 938 328, www.inlinespecial.cz.
Skala sport, Čechova 3, Prague 7, tel.: 605 258 670, 220 571 721, www.skalasport.wz.cz.
Stromovka: Even on the main, 3 kilometer-long circuit, easily identified by the number of skaters, one must pay close attention, because there are lots of bumps and low-quality asphalt patches. Stromovka provides the greatest space for a skater's fantasy, with side paths for testing your in-line limits. There are skate rentals, too.
Rentals of in-line skates, protective gear, scooters, at a stand near Marold's Panorama. www.tik.cz/html/pujc/pujc.html.
owner and director, English Language Preschool
Why do you prefer in-lining to other sports?
"I began in-lining some five years ago. I used to play ice-hockey and was tempted to fill the summer season, too. In-lines are softer, the joints and spine suffer less than when you do athlethics, for instance, which I did for a long time. And it's more fun."
What's your favorite in-lining place and why?
"In Letenské sady and Ladronka, because I live in Dejvice. I'm in-lining quite seriously and those offer good paths."