Thousands of roller-skating afficianados and athletes will descend on the University community this weekend, as the United States Artistic and Indoor Speed Roller Skating Championships rolls into the Civic Center. The annual event, which returns to Philadelphia after a 50-year absence, is the premier roller skating competition in the country. This two-week contest will decide the membership of the United States World Games team. Over 2000 athletes representing all fifty states will vie for the honor of representing the United States at the World Artistic and World Speed Championships, to be held in Sydney, Australia over the next three years. While many Americans may not consider roller skating to be as serious a sport as its winter sister, ice skating, the '50s favorite is making headway, according to Charles Wahlig, the president of the United States Amateur Confederation of Roller Skating. "We feel the metropolitan demographics of the Philadelphia area are in step with our growth as a sport," said Wahlig, in a statement. "Not only are we hoping to take advantage of the added exposure, but also to bring competitive roller skating in all of its dramatic, eloquent and athletic finery, to the largest audience we can. We are confident Philly can meet these needs." The Artistic competition will be featured during the first week of the event. Skaters enter artistic events in figures, singles, pairs and dance skating. "It's just like with [Olympians] Torville and Dean. Everything they do on ice is performed on roller skates," said former skating world champion Susan Rendfrey. "If you had a camera on people from their knees on up you wouldn't be able to tell if they were on ice skates or roller skates." The second week will feature the speed skating competitions. In this sport, skaters race against each other in packs of no more than nine on a 100 meter track. Pack speed skating combines physical strength with track savvy, Rendfrey said. Not only has roller skating formed international meets of its own like the World Games which occur every three years, but roller skating has been a part of the Pan American Games for three years and has also has been featured at the U.S. Olympic Festival. Organizers look forward to increased exposure when roller hockey will be showcased as a demonstration sport in 1992 Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona, Spain. Rendfrey said that roller skating promoters hope hockey will break into the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, and that "artistic and speed skating will shirttail in as well." "I think skating is the epitome of all art forms. It combines the athletic and the aesthetic," she said. "Take all the beauty and skill of ballet and jazz dancing and put velocity behind it. It's just that more exciting." The United States Artistic and Indoor Speed Roller Skating Championships are set for August 2 through August 15 at the Civic Center Convention Hall. Tickets are $12 to $15 dollars for adults and $6 for children.Comments powered by Disqus
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