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Skating tradition rolls on in Roseville

By: Laura O’Brien Press Tribune Correspondent
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Roller skating is in the genes for the family owners of Roller King on Riverside Avenue in Roseville. Pat and Michael Jacques (pronounced “Jakes”) met at a roller rink. Their children David and Kristina, who are co-managers of the rink, each met their spouses at roller rinks, too. Although general patronage at Roller King ebbs during the summer, for the rink’s roller skating team, the Roseville Artistic Skate Club, warmer weather brings the culmination of its season. Competitive roller skaters hone their craft through afternoon club practices at Roller King. Skaters range in age from 3 to 72. Pat is one of seven teachers. Artistic roller skaters compete in the same categories as ice skaters, she said. Categories include figures, singles, pairs, and dance (solo and team). “It’s pretty close to what they do on ice, just a lot cheaper,” she added. Maintaining wood as a skating surface is cheaper than maintaining ice. Additionally, good roller skating instruction costs less than ice skating coaching because roller skating isn’t burdened under the prestige of being an Olympic sport. Generally roller skaters and ice skaters are two different breeds, but some skaters make the transition from wheels to blades. “A lot of the Olympic (speed) skaters right now started out in roller skating,” David said. “They became world champions on roller (skates) and then crossed over onto ice.” Olympic ice skater Tara Lipinski also started on roller skates, he said. Prospective roller skaters ages 12 and younger can try the sport during Saturday morning lessons at Roller King. Rena Fenner of Roseville said her daughter Allysa started taking classes at the rink at age 3. “I’m going to wear a dress and do that mom,” Allysa, now 11, told her mother. Allysa attended lessons every Saturday for a while and eventually joined the artistic club. “You get to a point where Saturdays are not enough so you just start coming to club (practices) during the week,” Rena said. “It’s a commitment, definitely.” Allysa has competed at the national level. “It’s hard when you fall,” she said. “I’m more clumsy off skates than on skates.” The artistic club is part of the Cal Neva Skating League, which includes clubs from Chico to Rohnert Park. Skaters compete in their final pre-regional meet, the Memorial Day Invitational, at Sunrise Roller Land in Citrus Heights from May 27 to 30. The Southwest Pacific regional championships begin in Fresno on June 24. It’s a non-qualifying meet, which means all skaters may compete in the regional contest. Members of the Roseville club regularly qualify for nationals, and last year Niquel Garcia qualified for the world meet in Portugal. Pat and her husband Michael were competitive artistic roller skaters in the northeast before moving to California in the 1970s as instructors. They took over ownership of Roller King in 1977. Now, Michael judges the world competitions, which prevents him from teaching. Roller skating has been popular in Northern California since the 1940s and 1950s, Pat said. Corporations picked up on the trend and built chains of roller rinks. But as land became more valuable, the rinks reverted to office space. “Most of the ones that are still in business are family owned,” she said. David said it’s hard to determine if the popularity of roller derby has accounted for the recent upturn in business at Roller King. The Sacred City Derby Girls flat-track roller derby team skates in their home bouts at Roller King. Their season began in February and continues through October. “Last year we picked up real well,” he said. “This year has been up also.” Roller King offers something for every age group, from children’s lessons to afternoon and nighttime public skating sessions. The family skate session on Friday nights from 7 to 10 p.m. enjoyed good business this winter, with 250 to 300 people attending.  “It’s an easy way to get an activity in that the whole family can do,” he added.