Four Rotorua teens have been selected to represent NZ in the world artistic roller sports champs in Buenos Ares Argentina from Oct 24 to Nov 13.
“Congratulations, you’re going to Worlds!”
After nine years of training, broken bones, hunting for the right-sized rinks and more than 10 hours of weekly practices these words were music to the ears of four Rotorua teens.
Ava Hook, Liam Fraser, Maegan Fraser and Hunter Jenkins will be the first artistic roller skating quartet to represent New Zealand at the World Skate Games.
“Mum surprised us,” 15-year-old Ava told the Rotorua Weekender.
The team, known by the name Pandemonium, were across the road from their usual practice venue at Lynmore School Gym when they got the call.
“[Ava’s] mum was crying. She sounded really upset,” Maegan, 17, said.
“She’s never upset.”
“We were all very nervous,” Liam, 15, remembered.
The group rushed back to the gym, fearing the worst.
“We came in and the parents were all standing together in this massive group,” Maegan said.
“We were all freaking out.”
But the news was better than the teens could have expected and soon the whole team were crying happy tears.
“We’re just so grateful,” 17-year-old Hunter said.
Hunter’s skating journey started in after-school care, where she had a good view of the gym and the older skaters practising.
Maegan and Liam said they got interested in the sport when they walked by the gym after school and saw skaters doing moves that “looked really cool”.
Ava has been skating since she was about 2 years old.
“Going to Worlds is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Ava said.
“New Zealand’s rules are very strict and we’re some of the youngest who get to go.
“We’re really grateful to everyone who told us we could do this.”
At the World Skate Games 2022 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pandemonium will be competing against older teams from countries all over the world with large talent pools and high-investment training facilities.
“The goal is to leave it all out on the floor,” the team’s coach David Hook said.
“To try their best and enjoy the experience.”
Hook, who himself has competed in roller skating at the world level, said he and Pandemonium had been working on the same routine since January but each of the teens had been training individually for eight to nine years.
“If you think of ice skating, [artistic roller skating] is like that but on wheels,” Rotorua Artistic Roller Skating Club Mayheur Hook explained.
“The sport’s got all the jumps, spins and lifts, telling a story to music.
“It takes years and years and years to become really good skaters individually before you come together as a team.”
Hook said the use of four-wheel skates which were heavier than ice skates meant skaters moved faster.
“You also have to press on four wheels and so that makes the technique slightly different.”
There have been many challenges the teens have had to overcome to reach this milestone including a broken wrist and each of the teens catching Covid-19 one after the other before their World trials in Palmerston North.
“That was quite a trying time,” Maegan remembers.
However each of the teens found it hard to think of a better feeling than the one they get when a routine goes right.
“It’s like scoring the winning goal,” Ava said.
“Or like acing a test,” Hunter added.
“It feels like you’ve really accomplished something,” Liam said.
Maegan said the best days were when the real work began.
“We’ve learned you have to use every minute wisely. You can’t muck around but it’s definitely worth it.”
Ava said every time the team hit the rink between now and the competition in Buenos Aires, they’d be “powering it”.