Roller dancers let the music move them

Imagine ice skating without the ice.

The dramatic music, the twists turns and jumps, the fancy sequined outfits — it’s all there.

The only difference is these girls wear roller skates, and their rink is a hardwood floor.

For the last 20 years, Vera Shadduck has been training Kitsap youth in the fine art of performance rollerskating.

She organized the Olympic View Artistic Club, a dedicated group of 14 young women that skate five days a week at Skateland, right outside Bremerton’s city limits.

“We do everything ice skaters can do,” said Shadduck.

The girls practice one to five hours a day in the slightly dimmed and cavernous environment off of SR 303.

They warm up by tracing figures on the ground. There are black lines on the wood that they can follow to hone their technique.

Then they practice turns and jumps.

The girls range in age from 6-17 years old.

“When I am out there and I hear the music I’m just like ‘Bam!’ — I know what to do,” said 17-year-old Shayla Miles, who will be a senior at Olympic High School this fall.

She is a 4.0 student that has been skating since she was seven.

“She is a world-class skater,” said Shadduck.

Miles’s skating has taken her to numerous states throughout the nation to compete.

“I’ve been to New York, Florida, Nebraska, California, Nevada and Colorado,” Miles said.

“What I like is skating to the music.” she said. She is the lead choreographer for the group.

Currently, artistic rollerskating is not an Olympic sport, but Shadduck says it is only a matter of time until it is. That is one of the reasons she named her group Olympic View, because they are always skating in the hopes of doing it for a gold medal someday.

Currently, the girls compete nationally and internationally in “figures” style skating in the United States Rollerskating Association events, where they trace a pattern on a floor. Or they compete in a short and long “routine,” where they perform axles, lutz’s and sal chows.

Skateland is also home for the Bremerton Roller Hockey Club, who Shadduck says usually draws all the boys. Sometimes she has trouble compiling boys in her group.

Recently, her team competed in the United States Roller Skating Championships in July 5-19 in Lincoln, Neb., where her girls performed in the elementary (age 8 and under), freshman (12-15), junior and senior (13-18) categories.

Although they failed to win in medals this time, the girls reveled in the opportunity to compete amongst the 27 top finishers in their age division in the United States.

“It was really scary,” said 11-year-old Rosie Llewellyn. “I was skating against 27 other people.”

Llewellyn has been skating for four and a half years. She is a thin girl who swoops with speed across the hardwood floor.

“Sometimes we go faster than ice skaters,” Shadduck said.

They also do moves that ice skaters can’t do.

At practice on Wednesday morning, she asked Llewellyn to demonstrate a move called the broken ankle. She built up speed and then spun around with her ankle at an angle, almost making the move look painful, until she emerged with a smile.

“She’s very good on jumps,” said Shadduck.

Price overall per month is $150, which includes rink time, lessons and administrative costs.

“My overall philosophy is every kid needs to be immersed in something,” Shadduck said. “In it we learn perseverance. Self esteem is only motivated by achieving something.”

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