Success has marked the rebirth of the sport of roller skating in Tauranga, with a club formed only nine months ago stoked at its strong showing at a major competition this month.
''We brought back 10 medals which is fabulous for such a little club,'' Tauranga Roller Skating Club president Stacey Ellis said.
Four club skaters - two adults and two children - impressed the judges at New Zealand's second-biggest roller skating competition held in Palmerston North on March 10 and 11.
Growing interest in the sport led by top skater Michelle Webb and the efforts of Skatescool Tauranga resulted in the decision to reform the club.
''As people graduate from Skatescool, they have come to us. We want people to come and skate and enjoy the sport because the more the sport grows, the better it is,'' Ellis said.
It replaced the former Tauranga Amateur Roller Skating Club which wound up about 13 years ago after a slow decline in the sport.
Ellis said that at one time people roller skated everywhere, but then roller blades came along and it went out of fashion.
The gap between skating clubs had been so long that some people were not even aware of competitive roller skating, she said.
But the new club means to change all that and had begun talks with the council to try and get back the former club rink in Memorial Park that had fallen into disrepair.
''We are extremely confident about the future. All going well, within the next 12 months we will have our own training and home rink,'' she said.
In the meantime, skaters were training at the Greerton Hall, although its size meant it was less than ideal. ''Mapping out big dance routines is a struggle...we are kind of stifled at the moment.''
Roller skaters needed an unsprung floor at least the size of the Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre to train for competitions, and with members training five times a week for sessions lasting an hour to an hour and a-half, finding an alternative was a challenge.
They were even looking at off-season pack houses.
Ellis said the sport was quite physical and was great for weight loss. A lot of adults noticed how much they toned up.
For the children, learning their routines meant a lot of falls.
''The coaches say if they are not falling they are not learning.''
Most club members were aged from eight to their early teens, with adult members in their 30s and 40s. However the Palmerston North competitions showed age was no barrier, with one lady from Hastings in her 60s.
A lot of the jumps were similar to ice skating and there was a pathway for the sport that went from regional to area championships, the nationals, Oceania championships and the worlds.
Club membership was currently 12 skaters training for competitions plus some non-skaters, with fees of $40 to $60 a year plus venue hire.
Ellis said people had the idea that they could get started with a cheap pair of roller skates, but the reality was that competition roller skating need skates costing $600 to $800 a pair.
She described the footwork needed for dancing as very technical but beautiful to watch.
Tauranga Roller Skating Club
Sessions: Greerton Hall
Ages: Any age
Coaching: An accredited coach
Contacts: Email firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 021-163-1406 (Stacey)