FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Thousands of roller skaters are in Fort Wayne to
race and perform in national championships during the next three weeks.
The USA Roller Sports National Championships in speed skating and figure
skating opened Sunday at Fort Wayne’s Memorial Coliseum. Organizers expect
about 2,000 skaters to participate, with some 8,000 visitors coming to the
city for the event.
The speed skating championships run until July 23, followed by the figure
skating competition from July 24 to Aug. 7.
Within the national championships, skaters are competing for spots to
qualify for the Pan American Games, scheduled for October in Mexico and the
World Championships in November in Brazil, said Jane Wojnarowsky, figure
skating director for USA Roller Sports.
The championship events are being held for their 74th year and are in Fort
Wayne for the first time.
“They’ve really opened up their hearts to us, quite honestly,” Wojnarowsky
told The Journal Gazette.
“There’s a great population of roller skating lovers in the Midwest.”
Christian Keesler, a 15-year-old sophomore at Wayne High School in Fort
Wayne, is among the competitors in the events more associated with ice
skating. He has been involved in speed skating for several years, spending
much of his summers training with a Michigan team.
“I just tell myself to take it from the top,” Keesler said. “I know I can do
More than 30 races a day are scheduled during the speed skating competition,
after practice sessions starting about 7:20 a.m.
Local officials estimate visitors for the competition will spend up to $5
million, including lodging, shopping and eating.
“I think they’ve really found Fort Wayne to be a great fit for them as far
as being affordable, real family-friendly, and I think the Coliseum is going
to be a great fit for them,” VisitFortWayne marketing manager Kristen
Guthrie said. “I think it’s going to be a real successful event, something
we host really well here."