Skate city

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

De­spite the ad­vent of count­less other hi-tech and low-tech hol­i­day di­ver­sions, skat­ing is a pas­time that has never re­ally gone away.

Mums, the odd dad, a hand­ful of grand­par­ents, and plenty of kids flocked to the Cen­tral En­ergy Trust Arena’s Bell Hall on Palmer­ston North’s Walde­grave St last week for an af­ter­noon of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity on self-pro­pelled wheels.

Palmer­ston North has al­ways been a big skate town, and the Manawatu Show­grounds Skat­ing Club is one of the coun­try’s most prom­i­nent.

The club fos­ters speed or in­line skat­ing along with artis­tic on the more tra­di­tion­ally styled roller skates.

Club vice pres­i­dent Demelza Ge­orge-Franz­mayr said the club had 10 in­ter­na­tional artis­tic or speed skaters who were ei­ther world cham­pi­onship reps or mem­bers of the New Zealand Roller Sports Ocea­nia team.

The club’s youngest Ocea­nia team mem­ber is 13-year-old speed skater Seren­ity Grif­fiths, who has just been se­lected again fol­low­ing this month’s na­tional champs.

On her be­spoke large-wheeled, light-framed in-line skates, Grif­fiths showed a for­mi­da­ble turn of speed dur­ing the in­for­mal races and fun events held as part of last Wed­nes­day’s pub­lic skate af­ter­noon.

For free­wheel­ing fun, the club runs a $5 skate-hire at the Bell Hall dur­ing school hol­i­days, on its Wed­nes­day skate days, and at its Fri­day even­ing dis­cos.

‘‘We like to en­cour­age fam­i­lies, and you’ll no­tice the num­ber of par­ents tak­ing their chil­dren for a spin,’’ Ge­orge-Franz­mayr said.

That was how Emma Mor­gan, 14, be­came in­volved with the club five years ago, and found her­self hooked.

‘‘I came to one of these skate days on my birth­day and re­ally got into it. I started do­ing [artis­tic] com­pe­ti­tions and get­ting cer­tifi­cates,’’ she said.

The club will hold a fam­ily open day in March on the Me­mo­rial Park out­door rink.

DAVID UN­WIN/FAIR­FAX NZ.

Manawatu Show­grounds Skat­ing Club speed­sters Chris Mor­gan, Seren­ity Grif­fiths, 13, and Katja Franz­mayr, 13, pour on the pace dur­ing a race at the Bell Hall.

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