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Maplewood Girl Skates for Gold

Local roller figure skaters compete for the chance to become National Champions.

A Maplewood girl has a shot at becoming a National Roller Skating Champion later this month, but first her team, South Amboy-based All-American Rollermagic Skating, needs to help her get to Lincoln, NE.

The team will hold their Roller Skating Luau fundraiser this Thursday, July 12 at the South Amboy Arena; 270 N Stevens Avenue, South Amboy, to raise money to help offset the cost of getting their team of eight skaters to Nebraska. Those who show up will be treated to a skating performance, as well as other activities, including open skating, a DJ, hula dancing, face painting, Henna tattoos and even a chance to meet and greet with a still-unnamed NFL player.

For 17-year-old Julia Harvey of Maplewood, she’s come a long way since she began skating competitively 6 years ago. “When I first went out, I completely forgot my routine,” said Harvey. “I just rolled around in circles… thinking, ‘I’m probably not going to stick with this.’ The second night, I went out for the other event and I did really well.” After that first bout with nerves, Harvey continued to excel as skater. At Nationals on July 23, she will compete for a spot at the World Championships for the sixth time.  

Harvey, who will be a senior at Columbia High School, said she first became inspired to roller figure skate seven years ago, after she was exposed to the sport by an Italian exchange student living with her family. “When [the exchange student] came here, she was looking for a coach,” said Harvey. “I saw her roller skate and it was awesome. I tagged along and stuck with it.”

Roller skating is more popular than ice skating in many parts of the world because of the accessibility of rinks. This means the events are getting more competitive every year.

Coach Debbie Lewis described the sport of roller figure skating as nearly identical to that of its counterpart on ice, in terms of the type of movement and scoring system. Lewis has taught both sports and said that, while it’s easier to spin on roller skates, jumping is more difficult because roller skates are heavier than ice skates. She added that roller figure skating could just as easily be part of the Summer Olympics as ice figure skating is part of the Winter Olympics.

Lewis has taught Harvey from the beginning of her career, in both ice and roller skating. “She’s such a sweet girl, such a great kid,” Lewis said. “She works really hard, she’s a fantastic student. If you were to meet her, you would think she’s such a beautiful person.”

Lewis has never coached a skater to the World Championships, which take place in New Zealand later this year. She did say, however, that between Harvey and 18-year-old Lacey Picinich of Parsippany, this is one of her best chances yet.

If someone on the team makes it to the World Championships, they will hold another fundraiser, Lewis said.

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