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Carterton Skaters take on the world

Every Thursday evening at Clareville’s A&P Showgrounds, locals of all ages pay just five dollars to cruise the smooth wooden floor of the sports stadium, on skates.

The skating club was born after Verity Turner and Chris Robertson discovered there was nowhere to indulge their rollerskating passion in Wairarapa.

We’re crazy like that,” said Verity. “We started with a group of maybe five or ten kids to begin with in September last year.”

“People just started coming bringing their own skates,” Chris added. “We didn’t have any skates to lend out to people at that time – we said just bring your own skates and have a go.”

For novice skaters just getting started, there’s an important tip that is really quite obvious.

“It’s really all about balance,” Chris explained, “and just glide around.”

“Why do the kids like it? It’s kind of like a free-for-all where they can just do whatever they like. It’s a little bit risky, you might come a cropper, that sort of thing.”

For skaters wanting to roll with more gymnastic flair a resident coach is at hand. Aspen Fell is one of the top three competitive skaters in New Zealand and is looking to compete in the coming World Skating Championships. And when Aspen isn’t winning trophies, she’s sharing her skills with the next generation.

“Teaching youngsters how to fall is very important because if they aren’t used to falling, they’ll be scared. They’ll develop a fear about it. So they practise at the wall first before doing anything new, so that they’re able to feel comfortable before rolling around and trying it.”

To improve her own skills Aspen travels every day from her home near Martinborough to Upper Hutt’s skating rink. Her coach is three-time world roller skating medalist, Sarah-Jane Jones.

“Aspen’s drive definitely comes from inside”, Sarah-Jane explained. “The dedication, the sacrifices, the commitment – all of those things that you need to achieve your goals, she’s definitely going to go far. I can see her name in lights.”

Aspen first started skating as a teenager after an early back injury, something which came with its own challenges.

“Mum saw an advert in the newspaper and it said learn to skate in Whanganui. At first I felt very out of place because I was a 13-year-old amongst five and seven year olds. But that did not stop me.

“It was a very scary feeling being on skates the first two times because I kept falling over, so my hopes and dreams are to show skaters that you can do literally anything.”

In the 1950’s Carterton boasted its very own skating rink, with its opening attended by over 1,000 eager people. Now Aspen is hoping to revive its roller skating glory days.

“I would love to have a team, hopefully next year, that can go to competitions.

“Artistic roller skating is definitely becoming way more popular. It’s very much like gymnastics and dance and cheerleading. it’s definitely having a revival”

If you fancy having a go, Carterton skaters provide the skates, just turn up on a Thursday and have a roll. There’s even a lolly at the end.


Phil Stebbing
Phil Stebbing
Phil Stebbing is Wairarapa’s Local Focus video journalist. He regularly covers in-depth stories on arts, culture, people, health, and the occasional cat.

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