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Talib Aleem

Talib on Ice skates
Talib on PIC skates
Competitive Figure Skater and Pic Skater

On Wednesday, July 10, 2013, my coach Nick Perna and I flew from Washington Dulles International airport to Bucharest, Romania, to participate in the 3rd World Open Inline Figure Skating competition. After a brief layover in Frankfurt, Germany, we arrived in Romania and began preparations for three days of skating. We greeted our old friends from Russia, Romania, Spain, and France from previous competitions. Each day was exciting -- Nick and I were in awe just watching the Russians warm-up. They devoted at least an hour to running, jumping, stretching, air jumps, frog walks, etc. before they put on their skates! With matching warm-ups, sneakers, and jackets, they looked like a team. I hesitated to take a break outside for fear of missing something. 

Ladeene Friemuth, president of our Capitol Area Inline Figure Skating Club, wasn’t able to make the trip to Worlds, but fellow Pic skater Natalie Zelkin stepped in as the team lead, cheerleader, and motivator. Our team of three competitors was smaller than usual this year, but included Lynette Carroll and Phyllis McKenzie. We had to calm our nerves as we prepared to do our best. By the end of the competition, Lynette had earned a Silver Medal in Junior Ladies, Phyllis won a Gold Medal in the Senior Ladies, and I won a Silver Medal in the Adult Men's category! We’re thrilled that our fellow FIA skater Phyllis is a World Champion!!!!

I’d come a long way since I first went Rollerblading on a trip to Pasadena to attend a friend’s wedding in 1999. Later, during a job assignment in Southern California, I got hooked on Rollerblading along the Pacific Coast Highway, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica.

When I moved back to Reston, I started skating at the Reston Town Center rink and at that time did not know the different between hockey and figure skates. I asked someone how they were able to perform certain moves. The next day, I started renting figures skates.

By 2008 I was taking lessons with Nick, who had his hands full breaking me of my street skating habits. Nick helped invent Pic Skates and introduced me to them.

I find it very easy to switch back and forth between figure skates and Pic Skates because they’re quite similar. The Pic Skate even has a rubber pic to facilitate jumps like the figure skate’s toe pick. How easy are Pic Skates? The first time I tried a pair was at a competition in Chicago in 2009. Nick and John Petell (the other inventor of Pic Skates) took the blades off of my ice skate boots and put the Pic Skates on and I competed!

As a competitive skater, I practice on ice at least five times a week and off-ice (using my Pic Skates) at least five times a month. I essentially learn how to perform a move first on ice and then practice it on the Pic Skates at the end of the week. I practice waltz jumps, loop jumps, toe loops, salchows, forward and backward cross-overs, one and two-foot spins, power pulls, etc.

Pic Skating and figure skating complement each other. Pics are cheaper and do not require an ice rink, nor do they need to be sharpened. You can wear Pic Skates inside or outside and on any hard surface -- cement, hard plastic, a wooden floor, asphalt or tile.

I have competed at ISI events twice and used the same program during a World Inline Figure Skating Association event using my Pics. I intend to compete in 2014 on ice and at the next World Inline Figure Skating competition.

Standing on the podium in Romania, watching the American flag raise and hearing the National Anthem in such a large venue was powerful. Seeing all the judges, referees, security, skaters, coaches, and patrons from all over the world... there is nothing like it!  After the award ceremony the gold medalists each performed an exhibition program, and then we were off to a banquet to finally chill, eat, and mingle with friends.

Where else in the skating community can you get in on the ground floor, be a pioneer, compete internationally, doing something you already know and love to do? Come join us – we’re going to Spain next summer!