By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Most people are familiar with competitive ice skating. It has become on the most popular winter sports to watch and participate in. Much less known is its cousin – competitive roller skating. But for one Northborough teen, roller skating has become a passion, one which she has excelled at a national and now world level.
Gabriella Permatteo, 14, is now in Cali, Columbia, to compete in the 2015 Roller Figure Skating National Championship for Team USA. She made the World Team for her age division.
“I think this will be a great cultural experience. It will be good for me to see the quality of other skaters who are competing there from other countries,” said Gabriella in an interview before she left.
The competition will be held from Sept. 17 to Oct. 2. Her mother, Heidi Permatteo, who is also her coach, accompanied her.
“I have been coaching her since the age of four,” Heidi said. “We actually work really well together and I am constantly impressed with her level of maturity, ability to stay focused and her dedication to this sport. Since she started competitive skating at such an early age, she has won three individual age divisions starting with the youngest one. She has won Nationals nine times in different events.”
Artistic roller skating is similar to ice skating. The competitive categories include Figures, Freestyle (featuring jumps and spins), Pairs, Dance, Solo Dance, Precision (team skating) and Show Teams.
Gabriella will be competing in figures. As in ice skating, the skaters have to follow set lines with forward and backward turns while maintaining body position.
“I am always up for challenging myself. I like to expand my skating abilities with harder elements. I wish it wasn’t such a little known sport here in the United States,” said Gabriella.
In May, she went to an open invitational in Germany, the “International German Cup,” and competed in Figures, Singles, Dance (team and solo) and more. In Germany for five days, Gabriella really enjoyed the experience and also got an opportunity to train in Florence several days before the competition began.
“Competitive roller skating is a very popular sport in other places, including Italy,” Heidi Permatteo explained.
Gabriella is a freshman at Algonquin Regional High School where she joined her older sister, Olivia, a junior. Her sister also skates and competed in the team that won the National Championship this year. Gabriella also competed at this event.
Gabriella practices about 12 hours each week; she is passionate about the sport and her technique.
Five years from now she sees herself competing at the Senior World Class Level.
“Getting the opportunity to compete in Cali, Columbia, was a complete and beautiful surprise to Gabriella and our family,” Heidi said. “In the past, she competed in domestic events but this is the first year skating in an event that can qualify for this. This will be her first shot at skating Junior World Class. What an amazing opportunity for her. I couldn’t be prouder.”