Figuring it out on the roller rink

Alison Korn, Special to Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:13 PM ET

TORONTO - Coming from a land of ice and snow, competitive roller figure skating isn’t exactly every Canadian girl’s dream. And while the tricky moves are just the same as on ice, the opportunities are not — there are only a few indoor roller skating rinks in all of Canada.

But that hasn’t deterred Murielle Kaschl and Kailah Macri, two hard-working 19-year-olds who have qualified to represent Canada in the junior division at the Roller Figure Skating World Championships in Portimão, Portugal Nov. 24 to Dec. 4.

“When people talk about roller skating, they think roller disco or roller derby, but it is really close to ice skating,” said Macri, from Whitby, Ont. “I would like more people to know about the sport so we could start building it up in Canada again. It used to be popular, but then it died down. In Europe, it’s really popular in Italy, Germany and Spain.”

Macri attended All Saints Catholic Secondary School in Whitby until Grade 10 and since 2007 has trained full-time in Redwood City, California, while finishing high school online.

Kaschl, a dual Canadian-American citizen with Canadian parents, is based in Sarasota, Fla. Roller figure skating is big in the southern U.S. Kaschl’s coach, Karen Miller, was her neighbour and noticed Kaschl roller blading at age nine. She invited her to try roller figure skating and Kaschl loved it right away. Ten years later, Kaschl is preparing for her first worlds appearance.

“She’s a good skater, a beautiful girl,” Miller said. “She’s got great showmanship. She’s sort of got the whole package so we’re just keeping our fingers crossed.”

Kaschl, whose dad lives in Toronto, came close to making the U.S. team and then learned she was eligible for the Canadian team.

“We contacted the head of roller skating in Canada and they said you need these proficiency tests to pass,” said Kaschl, who competes in the dance division. “I got all the tests that I needed and went up to nationals (in Calgary in July) to get the scores I needed to go. I leave in 15 days. I’m scared, nervous, excited and questioning whether I’m going to be good enough, but it’s all going to be worth it when I get on the floor and am performing for the judges. All those thoughts go away and I’m 100% focused on the floor.”

Along with training, Kaschl works two part-time jobs and attends community college. She’s become friends with Macri, who is the same age, but has been competing at junior worlds since age 13. Macri competes in figures, freestyle, and combined, so a separate division from her friend.

“I love competing and just the feel of skating and competing against people, not necessarily winning, I just like the thrill of competing,” Macri said. “That’s pretty much why I do it. I’m now training about six hours a day, pretty much like an all-day thing. This year at worlds I want to place in the top 10 in both events, figures and freestyle. In the combined, the best I’ve gotten is fifth, so that’s pretty close to third, so maybe a medal this year, I don’t know.”

After the worlds, Macri plans to return home to Canada for Christmas and hopes to go to York University next September. She would also like to coach and try to build up the sport in Canada. There are clubs in Mississauga and Oshawa.

Kaschl’s goal at the worlds is “just to make a statement,” she said.

“Like, hey, I’m out here. Canada does have another skater. I would like to place, but I’m lucky to be able to be going right now, so anything else is just icing on the cake.”

alison_korn@hotmail.com


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