A group of Rotorua athletes are proving to be a formidable force on the national roller skating scene.
Last month, the Rotorua Roller Skating Club sent 22 competitors to the New Zealand Artistic Roller Sports Championships in New Plymouth and they returned with an impressive haul of medals and trophies.
Club president Aly Bennett said artistic roller skating was similar to ice skating. The skaters compete individually, in pairs and in groups and are judged on their technique as well as overall performance.
"There's always a panel of five judges and until recently it's always been a bit subjective and could be quite frustrating. Now, they've introduced a worldwide standard called Roll Art, which was used at nationals for the first time this year. It means it's much fairer and it's based on a set of criteria," Bennett said.
"When you do a jump or spin, there's a certain way to do it. Then they're also judged on how they interpret the music, how they move and there are set things you have to include in your routine, depending on the age group.
"Our club's particular strength is in the freestyle skating. It's pretty much what you would see ice skaters do but on four wheels. We also have a strength in show group routines - that's a real strength for Rotorua."
Bennett said the club was lucky to have coach David Hook and his wife Mayheur Hook, the club secretary, who were heavily involved and had ensured there was a supportive team environment.
"They instil a real team approach, the skaters are all really supportive of each other. The skaters watch each others' routines, they don't just leave when they're finished. We do have a really strong club spirit.
"It's highlighted when we go away to competitions and we get comments from other clubs about how tight our club seems to be. We've just got a great bunch of skaters who do really well under pressure."
Rotorua also had eight skaters selected to represent New Zealand at the Oceania Championships in Melbourne in October.
"We're thrilled. Not many people get to represent their country, so they get the experience of doing that. They're under a lot more pressure at that level and they tend to compete against a lot of the same competitors at national competitions so it's an opportunity to go against some new people.
"It's an opportunity to see what other skaters are doing at that level as well which is quite inspiring for them in taking their own skating forward," Bennett said.
Like with any sport, administrating and competing in roller skating is not free and the club is holding it's major fundraiser next week.
The Rotorua Roller Skating Club's Annual Artistic Skating Show: A Night at the Movies is an important fundraiser but doubles as a way for the club's competitive and non-competitive skaters to showcase their wide-ranging skills.
"It's something really different to go and see. I think a lot of people in Rotorua are probably not even aware that we have a roller skating club here but it's actually a really big and thriving club.
"It's basically a whole lot of show group routines to movie scenes, including costumes and it will be suitable for all ages. I think it will be really fun, entertaining and possibly inspiring for other people who have thought about roller skating. We're happy for new members in our club."
The show is being held next Saturday, August 17, at the Sportsdrome from 6.30pm and tickets are available at ticketmaster.co.nz.
Rotorua Roller Skaters selected to represent New Zealand at the Oceania Championships in Melbourne
Rosa Hook, Milah van Niekerk, Maegan Fraser, Hunter Jenkins, Hannah Sparks, Ava Hook, Tadhg Cameron, Liam Fraser.
The Rotorua Roller Skating Club Annual Show: A Night at the Movies
When: Saturday, August 17, 6.30pm
Where: Rotorua Sportsdrome
Tickets: www.ticketek.co.nz. Adult: $9.50, Child U16: $5, Senior: $8, Family (2 adults + 2 children): $24. Fees apply.