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Rollerblade® Ambassador Anna Zuver

Anna Zuver is from Atlanta, Georgia.  Atlanta is one of the biggest and busiest cities in the United States.  In July Anna visited the World Roller Games in Barcelona, Spain. As a Rollerblade® ambassador, she did not want to miss any of the speed skating action at the World Roller Games. Luckily we were able to catch up with her at the event and had a quick chat.

Is this your first visit to Barcelona? Are there any locations you would recommend visiting on skates?
This was my first visit to Barcelona, and I can’t wait to go back! Everything in the main part of the city is so accessible on skates. My favorite thing was skating every morning from el Poble Sec to Front Maritim where the track was set up – skating past the happy lobster, through giant empty plazas where street vendors are set up during the day, and along the empty beach boardwalks. If you visit Barcelona, grab some skates and Google Maps, and just explore!

We’ve all heard that Barcelona is one of the most skater friendly cities in the world.  How was your experience in Barcelona on the Twister Edge W 3WD?

I stayed in an AirBnB in El Poble Sec, not realizing how far away it was from the speed skating track (about 5mi/8km). I was so happy I did because it ‘forced’ me to get on my skates every day! I took my Rollerblade backpack everywhere, skated everywhere, and put on shoes when I got to my destinations. The grocery store clerks didn’t bat an eye when I rolled in on skates, and shoved my groceries and waters into my backpack. It was so fun to hop from bike path, to road, to sidewalk, seeing beautiful beaches and cool streets along the way.

What did you think of the World Roller Games?
The World Roller Games was such a cool opportunity to see world class competition from legendary competitors. As far as speed skating, we only have six banked tracks in the entire United States, so it was very cool for me to be able to see skaters competing on track for the first time. The schedules and ticketing processes were a bit confusing, and the venues were very far apart, so I hope those things improve at future World Roller Games. It’s a very new event however, and it always takes a few years to work out the kinks!

How do you think an event with all the different skating genres will impact the future of inline skating?
It is a really unique opportunity to bring so many disciplines together – it gives everyone a chance to see all of the incredible ways you can enjoy skating. In such a small sport, I think it’s extremely important to be ambassadors for the sport and to be able to talk to new skaters about the different things they can try – urban skating, speed skating, slalom skating, park skating…not to mention, being multi-disciplined keeps skating fun and helps you improve in your main discipline. It is also incredible to see athletes from so many countries coming together. You can make lifelong friends just by meeting someone at a competition and seeing them year after year – spectating or otherwise!

Did you watch any of the other skating disciplines at the World Roller Games? What did you think of it?
Since the speed skating track was very far away from other competitions, I only managed to see one other event. On one of the speed skating off-days, I took a long walk to the Olympic stadium, and happened to be there during the battle slalom competition. If you’ve never seen it before, check it out on YouTube – I had never seen anything like it!

In the video you recommend the 3WD for a ride in the city. Can you explain why you prefer this setup?
The 3WD Urban is by far my favorite set up for skating in the city. The shorter frame gives all the maneuverability I need to turn sharp, step up onto a curb, or bust out an impromptu slalom or bad dance move. The bigger 110mm wheels are far more forgiving when rolling over bad pavement and cobblestones, and are more stable at higher speeds for when you find yourself jumping out onto the road and needing to keep up with traffic, going down a big hill, or going on an impromptu 50mi skate (that happened when I was in Belgium!). In summary, they’re just FUN.

What is the biggest difference between cruising through Atlanta versus Barcelona?
The biggest difference between cruising in Atlanta and Barcelona is the terrain and infrastructure. It’s almost impossible to skate in Atlanta without lots of hills, cars, traffic lights, and rough pavement. I love skating in my city, and it certainly has its own charm, but it is nothing like being in Barcelona. There, I strapped on skates and within 3 blocks was on a protected, smooth bike lane, with not a hill in sight. The only trouble was when the bike lanes turned into those annoying square cobbles! Hopefully the cars didn’t mind too much when I jumped out onto the road for a few blocks… Skates give you freedom, and that freedom was insanely multiplied in Barcelona!

For racing you use the Endurace Elite 110 skate.  Why do you use this skate for races? What are the advantages of this skate?
My goals with skating are to work on my technique and get more serious about racing. The Endurace is a great in-between skate. It’s comfortable enough to skate in for hours, but it performs well enough to get good speed. The shorter boot allows you to get into a more aggressive position, and the longer frame provides stability at higher speeds. The ability to remove the cuff has been good training for me, preparing for a proper speed skate. It doesn’t support your foot the same way a speed skate does, but I figure if I can find my edges in the Endurace, it will be an easy transition to speed skates.

Your last event of this season is the Athens to Atlanta Road Skate, which is 87 miles (140KM). That is huge!  How do you prepare for race like the A2A event?
Athens to Atlanta is totally huge, and possibly insane… For me, it is not a race, but more of a personal challenge. Many people get scared of the distance, but really the biggest thing is just being able to be on your skates and active for that length of time. I hope to finish this year in around 6 hours, so I will need to be comfortable on my skates for that length of time. Usually, that means going on a good training skate on a Sunday morning, and then heading over to Piedmont Park to play around on slalom cones…nothing too crazy! My longest skate before A2A last year was about 40mi. Since the course is hilly, I will also practice climbing hills with good technique.

Update on the Berlin Marathon – I learned that my good friend is getting married on the same day as the race, so unfortunately I won’t be attending the 2019 race. That said, barring any more weddings, I plan on racing in Berlin in 2020!