Skating with style

Ted Hamilton

Sport mixes old-school skating with new-school dance moves

Kira Heeley does a hollow back while roller skating. PHOTO COURTESY OF KIRA HEELEY

Credit: John Proppe

The ’70s is a time remembered for bell-bottoms, break dancing and roller skating. Now it’s 2006, and several college and high school students are involved in a new sport called jam skating, which merges the latter two.

“It is a mixture of skating, break dancing, gymnastics and a lot of attitude,” sophomore advertising major Kira Heeley said.

Heeley has been a speed skater since she was four. Her boyfriend, Justin Santoro, 24, introduced her to jam skating.

Jam skating is a newer sport that has only been around since the ’90s, Heeley said.

“Roller sports are not that popular,” she said. “(Jam skating) is very popular in the skating world, though.”

The sport is gaining popularity in the United States, and Heeley’s team, Dirty Dozen, even performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, Santoro said. Other teams have performed at NBA games.

“A jam skating team in Florida skates in halftime shows,” he said. “I think it’ll be big once it gets out.”

There are some places where jam skating is popular right now, like Atlantic City, New York City and Virginia, Heeley said.

Heeley and Santoro are both part of an eight-person jam skating team centered in Pennsylvania. There is room for four more, Santoro said. Because there are not many jam skaters, the team is made up of people from both Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“It’s hard to find people who are dedicated and talented in the area,” he said. “It’s a lot of work.”

Heeley said skating with a team is fun but can be very difficult.

“It can be a very thrilling experience,” she said.

Andrew Corsell, 16, is another jam skater with team Dirty Dozen.

“Everything you do in breakdance battles, we do on skates,” he said. “It’s a rush you can’t get off of a roller coaster or driving a fast car.”

Dirty Dozen is sponsored by Radar Wheels, a skate wheel company, Corsell said. The team practices once a week to put together new routines and practice them, Heeley said.

“The practices are a split between dancing and skating,” she said.

Jam skaters from teams across the country compete with each other in regional and national competitions, Heeley said. The regional competitions were held in June last year in Massachusetts, and Heeley did not come home empty handed.

“I took home two gold medals,” she said. “One for 16 and over girls and one for the double that I got with (Santoro).”

Heeley and Santoro then went to nationals.

“Nationals is like for the best of the best of the best,” she said. “I took home two bronze medals.”

Dirty Dozen is going to continue practicing in hopes of going back to the nationals this year. The team is currently looking forward to going to state competition in January.

Contact features correspondent Ted Hamilton at [email protected].