#Skater Arnav Shah has tips for first-timers who are ‘a hot mess’

Skater Arnav Shah has tips for first-timers who are ‘a hot mess’

Recently, Arnav Shah has seen a lot of newbies stumbling around Flushing Meadows–Corona Park.

”When the pandemic happened, all of the people who’ve been thinking about getting into skating finally had the time and space to do it,” says Shah, 34, a veteran inline skater who friends call “Sonic,” thanks to his speed on wheels. “There’s been a surge in skating interest, especially in the last two or three years … It’s hard to get your hands on a pair of skates at this point.”

Shah, who started careening around the streets of his Woodside, Queens, neighborhood at age 11, is a legend among city skaters. He can be found slalom skating between cones in Central Park, zooming through Prospect Park or marshaling group skates on behalf of the Empire Skate Club.

Beginners, be warned: A friend told Shah that “seeing new skaters in the park was really exciting, but that they needed to get lessons, because they were a hot mess.”

Shah advises finding an instructor or using a YouTube or other online tutorial “to learn how to stop properly, so you can be safe about things,” says Shah, who still lives in Woodside.

Lockdown has meant less traffic, but that has emboldened drivers to hit the gas a little harder, Shah warns, so new skaters should remain aware of their surroundings.

Head to an open, flat area to try out a skill that will make you look slick: the pivot turn.

“It’s totally approachable by skaters once they’ve got a little balance on wheels,” Shah says. “It’s not the most beginner move, but it’s something that looks very cool and is not often seen.”

Here, Shah breaks down each step:

Step 1: Get Ready

Arnav Shah's Step 1.
Arnav Shah’s Step 1.Courtesy of Arnav Shah

Start in a ready position. That means your skates are parallel, your knees are slightly bent and your shoulders are in line with your hips.

Step 2: Put Out Your Heel

Arnav Shah's Step 2.
Arnav Shah’s Step 2.Courtesy of Arnav Shah

From the “ready” position, bring one foot forward. That’s your pivot foot. (Shah demonstrates with his left leg.) Put your weight on your back leg, or satellite foot, balancing on all wheels. Once you’re steady, lift your front skate onto your heel, so that only the back wheel touches the ground, straightening your knee. That is your pivot foot.

Step 3: Sweep The Back Foot Around

Arnav Shah's Step 3.
Arnav Shah’s Step 3.Courtesy of Arnav Shah

From there, sweep your back (satellite) skate around so that it’s perpendicular to your front, or pivot, skate. From here, bend the knee over your satellite foot.

Step 4: Follow Through

Arnav Shah's Step 4.
Arnav Shah’s Step 4.Courtesy of Arnav Shah

Continue sweeping your back foot around until it is facing the opposite direction from where you started, parallel to the pivot foot once again. Once you get the moves down in an idle position, try gaining some momentum and doing the above while in motion, keeping your pivot foot perpendicular to the satellite one. Pro tip: Look in the direction that the pivot foot is pointing.


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