The 2021 New Zealand Roller Sports Artistic Championships are on from July 19 to 24 at Whanganui's Jubilee Stadium in Springvale. About 200 competitors from the South and North islands will be competing in a range of disciplines.
From these championships skaters will be chosen to represent further competitions like Oceania Artistic Championships (Oceanias) and World Championships (worlds), says local chairwoman, Brenda Gunn.
Whanganui skaters competing this year have all qualified in regional competitions.
"They were either on the podium or got one of seven qualification spots in each division. All our girls were on the podium for their events," Brenda says.
She says Whanganui skaters have a good chance in the nationals.
The venue is Jubilee Stadium, which is where the girls practise, as well as at their HQ at the skating rink in Hatrick St.
The skating surface at Jubilee Stadium is one of the three best in the country and is used for a variety of sports.
Practice is at least three times a week and they fundraise to pay for the stadium. NZ Community Trust helps out with some funding. Costumes and skates are provided by parents.
The most recent nationals were held in New Plymouth in 2019, with last year's disrupted by Covid.
Brenda says roller skating is definitely gaining in popularity across all disciplines.
"For artistic skating we have a coach, Kylie Shirley, come over from Palmerston North every Sunday. We also have another young coach, Aspen Fell, who coaches one of our girls in dance," says Brenda.
The Whanganui committee comprises Trina McKee, Tracy Fawthorpe, Stephanie Rush, Mel Francis and Brenda Gunn. Also on the organising committee for the nationals is Michelle O'Doherty from New Plymouth.
Brenda says they've introduced a new scoring system for "Roll Art" so they're now in line with Australia for judging and scores, so the way is now open for judges from Australia to come and judge in New Zealand.
In the upcoming competition, the Whanganui girls are competing in a range of skate disciplines.
Samantha Hayes is competing in Preliminary Figures, Preliminary Freedance and Youth Freeskate.
Lexie Hayes is competing in Preliminary Freeskate and Cadet Freedance.
Emma Fawthorpe is competing in Showskate (with Manawatū members), Freeskate and Dance.
Teani Jean Francis is in Preliminary Freeskate, Preliminary Freedance and Espoir Figures.
Pippa McKee has qualified for Cadet grade for Figures, Freedance, Showskate, Dance and Freeskate.
Morgan Gunn is competing in preliminary grade for Figures and Freedance, Espoir grade for Freeskate.
Admission to the event at Jubilee Stadium is free for spectators and Brenda says there will be a coffee cart and food stalls.
Skating commences at 9am and competition continues until about 9.30pm each day.
For young people who would like to be part of this popular sport in the future, there is a learn-to-skate option available at the Hatrick St rink on Wednesdays from 3.30-4.30pm. Public sessions are on Friday evenings from 7-9, Saturdays from 2-4pm and 7-9pm and on Sundays from 2-4pm. Entry is $5 and anybody of any age can give it a go.