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Inline skater hopes to roll from Roseville to Rome

Alyssa Martinez covets a spot with Team USA
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Alyssa Martinez had Rollerking to herself on a recent weekday afternoon, and she was gliding effortlessly — and fast — around the rink.

As quick as she was and with her fluid crossover strokes and arm swings in motion, the volume was on mute. Martinez, an inline skater, quietly made lap after lap after lap.

Her passion for the sport, and her goals, however, are loud and clear.

“I want to be in the Olympics,” she says. “After I make the world team a couple times, I want to go over to ice.”

Martinez, 17, is taking the route other speed skaters have chosen in their quest for Olympic glory, starting with inline skating before converting to ice.

She’ll compete in the USA Roller Sports Indoor Championships from July 14-21 in Lincoln, Neb. Her shot at making Team USA begins with the Banked Track and Road Championships from Aug. 1-10 in Colorado Springs. Martinez hopes to qualify for the World Championships from Sept. 9-15 in Rome.

Billy Martinez moved his family from Southern California to Roseville specifically so his daughter could work with coach Ken Shelton at Rollerking, and Shelton says Alyssa has “as good a shot (to make Team USA) as anybody else does.”

Shelton lives in Newcastle and has coached hundreds of inline skaters for more than 40 years.

“I’m coaching children of the children I coached when they were children, and that’s a little daunting at times,” he says.

Shelton says Martinez’s tall and slender frame is predominant in the sport and close to ideal. She’s one of his most dedicated skaters and has considerable natural ability.

“Natural ability goes a long way,” says Shelton, who’s helping Martinez polish her skill set and increase her strength “so she can get to the top of her group.”

On the indoor circuit, Martinez is considered a junior lady (ages 17-18). Outdoors, she’s in the junior world class (18U).

Billy Martinez introduced his daughter to skating when she was 3, and when Alyssa watched a speed skating team for the first time at a rink in Fontana, at the age of 10, she was hooked.

“She couldn’t wait to get out there with them,” he says. “She just had a love for it.”

Alyssa began competing, and the trophies and medals started rolling in. Billy Martinez started recognizing his daughter’s talent at the last meet in her first year of competition, when coaches and parents informed him she was going to win the overall points championship.

“When I was little, he always pushed me to get faster,” says Alyssa Martinez, a member of Roseville Team Speed. “I love it. I don’t know what I would do without it. I just like being competitive.”

She also loves to train. Martinez performs off-skate training in crossovers, her straightaway push, conditioning, running, plyometrics and agility. And, of course, she skates.

There are three races: a time trial, 500 sprint and 10K eliminator. Shelton says Martinez, who can reach 26 mph on skates, has endurance and good speed in the middle distances.

“She may not win the sprint, but she may place high enough in other parts of the sport,” he says. “She does quite well.”

As a child, Martinez didn’t believe her dad when he said he wanted her to be an Olympian. That has changed.

“Now, I know I can do it,” Martinez says.