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Félicitations are in order. Athletes from around the country are wrapping up their competitive seasons with rankings coming in from American Roller Sports's (ARS) 2023 Artistic National Championships in Hermitage, Pennsylvania.


However, for these athletes and the main body of the US's top athletes—youth, adult, and #teamUSA or elite—the second of four main events is about to start.



On the heels of all the various regional championships, thousands of athletes, families, judges, and officials are taking to the roads and sky—as we speak (image) for Lincoln, Nebraska, and USA Roller Sports (USARS) National Championships — the final meet of the year for youth and adult athletes.


Elite: January - October

From Lincoln, elite event medalists qualify for #teamUSA and continue on to Colombia for the 2023 Pan American Champions in Calí and the 2023 World Artistic Championships in Ibagué (dance, freestyle, pairs, and groups) and the 2023 Figures World Cup (Figures/Loops) closing out the 2023 competitive year in Freiburg, Germany.

Fight well and conquer!

At this time next year, Roller Louisiane's Membre-Athlètes (MAs) will kick off the Présaison (PreSeason) of Season Three (S3) on Saturday, August 12, 2023, as we prepare for May 2024's South Central Regionals where USARS athletes from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and, Texas will compete for a chance to go on to represent their clubs and regions at next July's 2024 National Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska.


AARS is the Artistic division of a nonprofit (ARS) dedicated to US-based traditions and tests (Website • Facebook); USARS is our National Governing Body (NGB) and World Skate (WS) is our International GB or IGB.


Preparation

The skating year starts in September and is structured with local meets in the fall and spring followed by regional and national championships during the summer. I graduated from Roller Louisiane’s class and was invited to join the club in November 2022, so my first competitions were spring invitationals, interclubs, or simply meets.


Memphis 2023

These are smaller competitions that any club director can request to compete in, although they are usually for clubs in that region. Roller Louisiane traveled as a club together for the first time in February 2023 to the Heart of Memphis AARS-sanctioned meet in Tennessee. I competed in two figure events, Adult Beginner C and Advanced B Figures. For readers who are not familiar with events, it is important to note that figure and dance events have two different competing elements, so one figure event is two different figures, and once dance event is two different dances.


Dallas 2023

Our second competition was the USARS-sanctioned Annual Broadway Easter Meet in Mesquite, Texas, where I competed in two figure events (Adult C Figures and Bronze 1 Figures), one team dance event (Adult C Team Dance), and one solo dance event (Adult C Solo Dance).


Broadway Skateland rink
Dad's Broadway Skateland in Mesquite, Texas. I tried to capture the 1960s façade, the fun mural, and neon signage in one photo. Historic architecture is one of my favorite research areas, so I really enjoyed this building. It also has block glass windows, an iconic part of mid-century modern architecture.

Since Roller Louisiane is a young club and I’d never competed in sports prior to this, the preparation for both competitions was a logistical and emotional whirlwind. Roller Louisiane founder and head coach Brian Clary designed our club logo and competition outfit, we finished our SafeSport training, practiced for our events, and learned the protocols for warm-up and practice (see section “Competition Protocol” below for more about that). SafeSport is the best training I have ever received concerning harassment and abuse prevention and I am grateful to the governing bodies that created and require adult competing athletes to complete it.


Preparation also included managing my stress about competing. I used to play the violin, and I would get overwhelming stage fright. A realization, a philosophy, and a club requirement helped me overcome that anxiety in both the meets. I realized never loved playing the violin enough to practice for hours a day, and preparation reduces stress.* Next I tried to internalize Brian’s direction that we should shed our ego while still skating with confidence because we represent our club and state. I decided to remember my new mantra that we worked hard to be there and that roller dance should be fun, light, and joyful (thanks, Brain) when I started worrying about all the eyes on me. I chose to be there, and I love skating, so I tried to let go of the rest of the feelings that arise when a person with a clipboard and better skaters than you are watching.


Finally, Brian required us to volunteer at our first meet. Volunteering as a steward before competing removed some of my fear of the unknown, as I was able to participate in the process of lining up competitors, which helped me understand the sequence of events and whom to look to for cues.


*Since I have a sister who made sacrifices so that I could own a violin, take lessons, and perform, I want to mention that being a violinist was transformational for me as a teen. Musical literacy has helped me in team and solo dance in surprising ways (stay tuned for my blog post about that!). That sister is also the first adult in my life that taught me that beautiful efforts were worthwhile for their own sake, so thank you.

Competition

Going to a competition was the first time, I saw artistic roller skating in person (except for our coach demonstrating skills for us). While I highly recommend finding the right accounts to follow on Instagram, seeing each artistic skating discipline in person was a captivating and educational experience. We were so proud when we heard our club name called and learned that two of our classmates, now teammates, had received medals!


As a bonus, we met skating legends Caroline Mirelli and Heather Mulkey.


It seems, with time, that clubs develop a rhythm for their competition weekends, but if you are still developing a club or attending a meet on your own, here are lessons learned for my first two competitions:

  1. Make a club schedule including each team member's events, when they are, and what they are. You can buy a meet schedule as a souvenir but don't rely on it for quick information. Make sure to check the printed meet schedule for any last-minute changes but use your club calendar to plan each day.

  2. Pack food. Rink food, if available at all, is not going to give you the nutrition you need after waking up at 4:00 a.m. and competing, spectating, and volunteering.

  3. Pace yourself. If you are competing in multiple events, you should not leave until your events are done. Bring snacks, find quiet time, and plan for networking and socializing! Meet directors keep the events on schedule, but can move on to the next category early if the prior event or discipline is finished, and so your event could be earlier than scheduled.

  4. Take a picture of the scoring results once they are posted. You will want it when you are reviewing your progress and competition history.

I am grateful to be a part of a club and have a coach to guide me on my adult skater journey, and I will continue to document what I learn and share it with you. We hope to represent you next year at the National Championships!


The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.
L’essentiel n’est pas d’avoir gagné mais de s’être battu.

- Olympic Maxim


Protocol

There was a reminder on Facebook recently about protocol and sportsmanship during competitions, so I wanted to mention a few warmup/ practice protocols that Brian taught us:


  • There should not be more than three skaters warming up on a figure circle at the same time.

  • Yield to backward skaters.

  • Don’t pause in the strike zone, especially if there are others approaching.

  • Understand the figures that others are doing so you don’t start in a direction that will cause a collision.

  • Present to the judges going on and off the floor.

  • You should wear outerwear over your practice or competition outfit when entering and exiting the rink.


A photograph of an artistic roller skating competition including figure circles.
I am a very risk averse person and I tried to only register for one event in my first competition, thank you Brian for convincing me to do two events and to continue to challenge myself! If you want my notes on what is wrong with my carriage in this photo, leave a comment below.

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Annie
Annie
Jul 24, 2023
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