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Calgary Roller Skate Festival keeps a timeless activity alive and well in YYC

By Tori Taylor, June 21 2019

Calgary is home to so many interesting communities dedicated to keeping the city alive and colorful. Calgary Roller Skate  is one such group. The days of brightly colored skates, tights, and neon lights are not dead. Rather, roller skating culture is kept very much alive and well by two Calgarians — Kathleen Janzen and Theresa Tucci. Over the last weekend, Calgary Roller Skate held its first festival showcasing both professional and amateur roller skaters. International guest stars included Michelle Steilan of the Moxie Skate Company — a professional skater well known for her intense stunt work for Bones Bearings skateboard company. The festival aims to inspire anyone interested in learning to skate or just wanting to relive their glory days.

“When Lloyd’s — one of Calgary’s well known roller skating rinks — closed down, so many people thought roller skating was over,” said Tucci. “We wanted to get the word out to the city that we still have a roller skating community.”

Over the course of three days, several hands-on workshops were held for all skill levels to improve their skating and dance techniques.

Photo by Mariah Wilson

“A good 40 people showed up to our learn-to-skate workshop,” said Tucci. “When you run these types of things you never even know if you will break even or what you’re going to get, but the feedback and the amount of people that showed up surpassed our expectations and will allow us to run the event again next year.”

A phenomenal gala was put on by local and international professionals — Estro Jen from Los Angeles, Skate Lisa from the UK, and Roller Skate Victoria Pro Team from Victoria, B.C. They performed combinations of skate and dance routines for a large audience on Saturday evening and also offered coaching at workshops on all three days.

Tucci and Janzen are the athletes behind the festival and Calgary Roller Skate — Calgary’s first roller skating school. Tucci also runs, Free Spirit Dance, an eclectic dance studio for adults. She is a trained dancer and has danced around the world. She chooses to combine these two passions as a teacher and mentor.  Janzen is a founding teacher at Calgary Roller Skate and owns a shop called Nerd Roller Skates. She shares her love of the craft by coaching local Calgarians at this unique school.

Tucci expressed her passion as she said, “There are so many avenues to take in roller skating — artistic skating, roller dance, the skate park. We wanted to show Calgary that roller skating is so much more than skating around in a circle”.

The Village Square Leisure Centre was adorned in colorful skating outfits, bright lights, great music and smiling faces as the Calgary Roller Skate Festival unfurled its timeless culture splash for the first year of what will now be an annual event.

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