You probably associate figure skating with ice skates; but learn here how folks on roller skates do it competition

DAVID F. ASHTON - Although relatively new to competitive roller figure skating, Makayla Simonelic performs like a pro while participating in the 2017 Northwest Region Roller Figure Skating Championships in Sellwood. In mid-June, some 180 figure roller skaters headed to nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park and its famous Roller Rink from all over Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia, and Utah to compete in the 2017 Northwest Region Roller Figure Skating Championships.

"The top qualifiers will get the opportunity to skate for the national championships in late July, held by USA Roller Sports in Lincoln, Nebraska," explained Oaks Amusement Park Operations Manager and skating coach George Kolibaba, during the competition.

"It's a good-sized region from which this competition draws, but there aren't many roller rinks still operating, Kolibaba reflected. "The Oaks Skating Club has many members here; it's perhaps the strongest club in the region, and in the country. We have many good teachers, many club members, and many of our members have won first place awards at the national championships, and have gone on to international competition."

While THE BEE attended the competition, young members of the Oaks Skating Club spoke to us about the sport.

After one of her performances, 7-year-old Haddie Stevens said, "I've been skating since I was 18 months old, and I love it because it makes me feel good. I like the music, and I like to be active a lot.

"I learned a lot of difficult moves from my coach," Stevens said, "And while I didn't do them perfectly the first time, I practiced a lot, every week, so I got better."

Stevens helped the Oaks Junior Precision Team place first; she came in second in "Elementary B Pairs", partnering with Alexander Hess; and she placed fifth in the "Primary Solo Dance" category.

Third grader Anna Berman said she's been skating since the age of 2. "What I like best about doing this is the fun feeling of rolling around the rink on skates. I feel nervous competing, but I really like it."

Last year, Berman, and her partner Robert Hamlin, won first place in "Juvenile/Elementary A Pairs" at the national championships. The pair took the first place prize in that category this year. Plus she also was judged best in "Primary Girls Loops", and helped the Oaks Junior Precision Team score first place.

Although Makayla Simonelic said she's only been skating for four years, her performances took first place in both the "Juvenile A Solo Dance" and "Elementary International Solo Dance" categories.

"I like skating and competitions," Simonelic confided after her first performance. "It's fun, because you know everybody, and it's almost like family here."

Whether you'd enjoy rolling around the rink, or learn to become a competitive skater, the Oaks Roller Rink may be the place to check out for summer fun. See more online –

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