Thanks to Naomi
I thought it was high time that I write an article on the good things Naomi Grigg has been doing for skating, particularly freestyle and slalom, here in London. I'd say she's personally responsible for dramatically raising the profile of slalom in the UK, and she's put a lot of effort into making it accessible to other skaters, often for little or no remuneration.
Regular advanced slalom and freestyle courses
Naomi started a series of courses for people wanting to learn advanced slalom in early 2004. She put together a syllabus and worked on breaking down the moves into an easy-to-learn format with chalk drawings, with much testing of the ideas on beach regulars.
As an instructor I was impressed at the amount of work she put into this, and it was pretty much all from scratch since freestyle slalom is quite new on the skating scene. I'm not sure anyone had yet analysed it from a teaching perspective, at least not to the degree required to run a course on it, and I know Naomi spent many months of effort and revisions into it.
I took the chance to go on one of her courses and had a great time. Lots to learn and it really opened my eyes as to how cool slalom really is. I have to confess I didn't get the slalom bug, probably because I'm one of those dodgy lycra clad speedskaters, but that's no fault of Naomi's, LOL.
Her enthusiasm was infectious and all through summer 2004 there were lots of impressively improved slalom skaters to be seen at the beach and Trafalgar Square. In fact I'm sure her teaching indirectly put the noses of some old school skaters out of joint, perhaps because so many people were slaloming rather well, plus swelling the ranks of the skaters at the beach.
Aha, now some of the banana bunch will laugh here. Naomi was responsible for strong-arming a group of skaters into signing up for the slalom competition at Eastbourne's Skate 2004 event. It was so funny to see the force of her personality persuading or rather forcing people to practice and get ready for taking part. The group ended up calling itself the banana bunch, and had a T-shirt of "How's my skating? Call 555-NAOMI", LOL!
I should say that a lot of persuasion was needed because a number of the top French slalomers were due to come over to the Eastbourne event. This was massively intimidating to many UK slalomers, the French skaters have near God-like status because of their high level of skill, especially since we've all watched their amazing videos.
Talking about the force of Naomi's personality, to put it delicately many skaters get the impression they would not like to see the wrong side of her. In real life she's actually a softy, and just comes across with a tough exterior. It's super fun to tease her about that, she gets sooo wound up.
Here's another achievement. Since winning the French Cup Womens Freestyle Slalom in April 2003, she'd become well known to many of the French slalom skaters involved in the IFSA (International Freestyle Slalom Association) competition series. I think it had long been an ambition of Naomi's to bring the IFSA series to the UK, and this was the primary motivation for working with the rest of the skating community to achieve not only the slalom championships, but a mega skating event as well.
I think we all owe a lot to Naomi for improving the skating scene in London. She's done a lot for us all, improving the quality of skating and slalom in particular, upping the participation and event quality, etc. So here's a big thanks to her!
Naomi has been skating for more than 10 years now and is an experienced and expert freestyler, both in dance and slalom. She's a IISA Level 3 certified skate instructor with extensive teaching experience, and of course is a regular at "the beach".
I did this interview with Naomi just over a year ago.
What's the beach?
Actually it's not a beach at all, it's just the western end of the Serpentine Road right by the Serpentine, and is the most popular hang out for skaters in London. Anyone who's anyone in the local skating community can be found there regularly.
Although many of the skaters there can be intimidatingly good, feel free to skate up and introduce yourself. Most are very friendly and welcoming. Of course if you're also a regular on the SerpentineRoad.com forums, that helps too!
It's the International Freestyle Slalom Association, and was founded to promote the sport of freestyle slalom, speed slalom, and skate high jump. I think it's a great move and will help the spread and professionalism of this type of skating around the world.
SkateLondon promises to be one of the biggest skating festivals in the UK in recent times, and is a mega-cooperation between different events and the pillars of the London skating community who are involved in them. It's on in June on the 18th and 19th in 2005.
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