Sports

USA Roller Sports nationals coming to Cedar Rapids in 2020

HS journalism: Athletes compete in figure skating, in-line hockey and roller derby

A look the skates used in  by Cedar Rapids Tourism in its pitch to host the US Roller Sports National Championships in 2020. (Cedar Rapids Tourism)
A look the skates used in by Cedar Rapids Tourism in its pitch to host the US Roller Sports National Championships in 2020. (Cedar Rapids Tourism)

Cedar Rapids is getting ready one of the biggest sporting events the city has ever hosted.

“This is the longest and largest event that happens at one time that I have ever had pleasure of being apart of and associated with in trying to bring it to Cedar Rapids,” said Mary Lee Malmberg, director of sports tourism in Cedar Rapids Tourism.

The USA Roller Sports National Championships is a 23-day event that will be held in Cedar Rapids in July 2020.

USARS was founded in 1937 and has its headquarters in Lincoln, Neb. It is recognized by World Skate and the United States Olympic Committee as the national governing body for competitive rollers sports in the United States.

The competing athletes are members of USARS and train for team and individual events, hoping to qualify for the national tournament.

Based on past events held in Lincoln, a city very similar to Cedar Rapids, this colossal event will have a major economic impact by bringing in more than 10,000 overnight hotel stays and $8 million in visitor spending.

The event will have around 1,500 to 1,600 participants, varying anywhere from young elementary children to senior citizens.

“These athletes then travel with family and friends, which is a big reason why an event like this is so good for a community like Cedar Rapids,” Malmberg said. “People are not only coming in to watch the competitions, but are also out experiencing the community, whether that be through going out to eat, sleeping, shopping or going to one of our many entertainment options. That is why an event like this is really great for us.”

The Cedar Rapids Ice Arena will host the national championships. Both ice rinks will be turned into roller skating rinks for the event, sometimes hosting the more amateur skill groups and sometimes hosting the elite groups.

The events being held during the USAR National Championships are figure skating, in-line hockey, rink hockey, roller derby, freestyle and speed skating.

Here is a breakdown of the competitions:

l Figure skating: Demands its skaters combine a careful balance of precision, strength and artistry into a single, impressive performance. Skaters of all ages compete in singles, pairs, figures, solo dance, team dance, precision or show skating. They are judged on content and manner of performance.

l In-line hockey: A variant of hockey played on a hard, smooth surface, with players using in-line skates to move and hockey sticks to shoot a hard, plastic puck into their opponent’s goal. There are five players, including the goalkeeper, from each team and teams normally consist of 16 players.

l Rink hockey: Very similar to in-line hockey except it is much faster paced. Players cannot have excessive contact with each other and players use quad skates instead of in-line skates.

l Roller derby: Game play consists of a series of short matchups (jams) in which both teams designate a jammer (who wears a star on the helmet). The jammer scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to hinder the opposing jammer while assisting their own jammer, in effect playing both offense and defense simultaneously.

l Freestyle (slalom): Highly technical field of skating that involves performing tricks around a straight line of equally spaced cones. The most common spacing used in competitions is 80 centimeters, with larger competitions also featuring lines spaced at 50 and 120 centimeters.

l Speedskating: A non-contact sport requiring skaters to display their skills to maneuver cleanly through the pack and into winning position. Skaters are disqualified for pushing, blocking, forcing another racer out of position or using their arms, legs or hands in any way that impedes the progress of other competitors.

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