SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Elegance is not a word often associated with roller skating.
Music and moves, twists and turns in a rink. That’s normally on ice.
But at Springfield Skate World, some talented youngsters have swapped one blade for four wheels.
“They ask me, ‘oh, what sport do you do’ and I say roller skating and they’re like, ‘figure skating’?” skater Michaela Opdyke explains what she says when friends ask about the sport. “They’re like ‘on ice?’ No, on roller skates.”
Anything you can do on ice, you can do on roller skates.
You can spin, jump and of course perform.
“They get to be a little bit theatrical and a little bit dramatic and use a lot of facial expressions and stuff like that,” skate coach Candy Naro said.
“I like to be able to express myself in a way that others don’t and just be able to be who I am on the floor,” 14-year-old skater Emily Flippin said.
“I’m kind of shy,” Zach Cogswell, who plays Elvis in his routine, said. “But you’re more in character. You’re not really yourself. You just have to realize that you’re trying to put on a show.”
Other routines include Michael Jackson and Flippin’s Cleopatra.
“We’ve got the king of pop and the king of rock,” Naro said.
The group was highly successful at regionals last month with multiple skaters qualifying for nationals. The best of the group might be 13-year-old Michael Opdyke, who’s philosophy of skating has many raving about her potential.
“Tough like a boy, graceful like a girl,” Opdkye said of her style.
“We have a skater that has been told many times that she could be a world-class skater,” Naro said of Opdyke. “As long as she stays focused because she’s young enough, she’s put her heart into it, she’s strong enough, she can do it.”
Despite the hopes of these super skaters, roller figure skating is not an Olympic sport. But that transition to ice is not uncommon. Gold medalist Tata Lipinski started on four wheels.
The group is content staying on solid ground for now, but who knows: maybe the next Tara Lipinski could be roller skating right now here in Western Oregon.