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New home proves nice fit for roller skating championships

The national championship of roller skating has been around for over 50 years, and nearly every other year the skaters take their turn in Lincoln.

But 2016’s return trip came with many firsts for the long-time competitors. The first championships away from the Pershing Center. The first time five different disciplines came together under one roof. The first time in recent years the numbers of athletes competing increased.

Still one thing is for certain: Lincoln remains home to the skaters from around the country.

Just under 6,000 USA Roller Sports National Championships athletes, as well as coaches, officials and supporters, kept Speedway Village busy for nearly a month.

Figure skating wrapped up the events on Saturday with skaters ages 3 to 80 hitting the floor in the most extravagant of outfits — some velvet, many covered in rhinestones.

Lona Dennis, a skater since 1968 and now a coach and judge, said the biggest differences between last week’s figure skating and ice skating obviously involves the surface, but also recognition of the sport.

Figure skaters on wheels don’t get their shot in the Olympics, so the first week of August in Lincoln is their time to shine.

Dennis first competed at nationals in 1973 at the Pershing Center. Dawn Cunko, a skater from California, shared memories of 22 years taking turns at Pershing as well.

“Pershing was like an old shoe, you know?” Cunko said. “A lot of memories, it was comfortable, we knew where everything was — but it was old.”

With Pershing set to close in 2014, Lincoln’s Convention and Visitors Bureau set out to find a new home for the skaters in Lincoln. But where?.

“We couldn’t even begin to populate the Pinnacle Bank Arena,” Danny Brown, president of USA Roller Sports, said. “And going to the Ice Box was not even close to what we needed. CVB thought Speedway Village had potential, and I saw it, too.”

It wasn’t until the competitors hit the floor that they saw eye to eye with Brown and other USA Roller Sports staff.

The building, normally covered by turf, could accommodate not only the competition roller skating floor, but for the first time there were two rinks — side by side — so skaters could use one to train before competing.

When competing at Pershing, skaters would have to shuttle to rinks set up around town to practice. With the extra rink, coaches didn’t need to worry about missing out on performances.

“For the first time we’re all together in the same building, and it’s beautiful,” Dennis said.

For many of the athletes, the month is about the “big skating family” they get to see once a year. Brown thinks the intimacy of Speedway Village only heightened their reunion.

“They expected something so much less, and we got so much more than we ever, ever dreamed of,” he said. “We’ve always been treated very well by the convention and visitor’s bureau, but this year they really stepped it up.”

And in many ways, Brown said the skating community benefits the city of Lincoln, in return. Lincoln’s hotel management recognizes skaters’ faces over time, figure skater Twila Robinson, 57, said.

Downtown hotels, including Embassy Suites, the Cornhusker Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn and Holiday Inn, drew skaters throughout the month. Brown said some families will book rooms from three days to two weeks, depending on schedules. The overnight stays, combined with the traffic at downtown restaurants, add up.

“We bring a tremendous amount of tourism dollars here,” Brown said. “When we have this many athletes, there’s millions of dollars of economic impact.”

B. Paul Tunakan, the Cornhusker’s director of sales and marketing, said the hotel handled 85 athletes staying an average of five to seven nights, the longest being a 12-night stay.

“They definitely bring some good business,” Tunakan said. “But they also bring a different crowd. Because they’re competing, they’re very excited about what they’re doing. It’s a different attitude.”

Brown estimates that the economic impact this year was greater than other years with a 20 percent increase in athletes competing — mostly in the younger divisions.

The event is to return to Lincoln next year, where participation numbers have always been high.

“You know, over the years, we get some people that go, ‘Aw, we’re going to Lincoln again?’ with a little disdain and a little frustration, but when they get here, it’s home,” Brown said.

“It’s familiar. You know where you’re going and they still have a great experience.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or

New X-TREME Friday Nights

Think you know what Funcity Sk8 has to offer? Think again! Our Fridays are going bigger, bolder, and more X-treme. We’re introducing more games, more contests, and more prizes to create an event your friends will be talking about all summer. Are you ready to go X-treme?

Games and Prizes

xtreme friday skateThrow your expectations out the window. The competition heats up at our new X-treme Sk8 Fridays. Test your skills with arcade racer games, shooting games, old school arcade games, and more. When you’re done beating the odds at the crane game, team up with your friends for a game of air hockey. Win tickets and score big with exclusive prizes from the Stuff Shop. Prefer games that keep you on your toes? We’re rolling out a whole new selection of skating games, from classics like Red Light, Green Light to games that will have you pushing the limits of your skating skills. What will you win? You have to play to find out!

Skate Races

Do you have a need for speed? Test your hairpin turns and aerodynamics with a little friendly competition. We’re pushing the limits each Friday night with all new skate races. Whether you like team building relay races or showing off your solo skills during a free-for-all skate race, it’s time to fight for first place. Winners will get an exclusive prize to match their shiny, new bragging rights.

Friday nights may be X-treme, but the fun doesn’t stop there. Call Funcity Sk8 and Play to learn about weekly summer skating, laser tag, and special events in Webster.

Pick a Skate, Any Skate

If you’re a lifelong roller-skater, you’ve probably never given much thought to the question of quad skates or inline skates. You skate the way you’ve always skated, and the idea of switching seems silly. But if you’re new to roller-skating, the question of quad or inline skates becomes a lot bigger deal. Luckily, you don’t have to make the decision blind. Funcity Sk8 and Play has all the info you need to find the skating style that’s right for you.

Quad vs. Inline Skates

quad skates and inline skatesIn some ways, every skate is the same. Quad and inline skates both represent freedom, movement, expression, and fun. They both require balance and skill. And they’re both available to rent during weekend skating sessions or Tuesday Dollar Night. But quad skates have a reputation for that classic fun Americans love, while inline skates are edgier, geared more towards roller sports than easy rolling. So which kind of skate is right for you?

Quad Skates

  • Built for indoor skating
  • Slower
  • Less supportive of the ankle
  • More flexible
  • Better overall balance
  • Better balance from side-to-side

Inline Skates

  • Good for indoor or outdoor skating
  • Made for speed
  • Highly supportive of the ankle
  • Less flexible
  • Harder to balance
  • Better balance from front-to-back

Still not sure which skate is the one for you? Give them both a try! Skate this summer at Funcity Sk8 and Play, and roll around the rink in both quad and inline skate rentals. You may be surprised at which type you like best!

For more information on skate sales, rentals, and summer skating hours, call Funcity Sk8 and Play.

Quad vs. Inline Skates

Skating Sports: Intro to Roller Derby

For those who enjoy roller skating, moving about the rink in circles isn’t the only way to have fun. Others like to enjoy a more competitive atmosphere. A growing roller-skating sport is the sport of roller derby. Leagues are springing up around the globe for these competitive skaters.

Roller Derby

Roller derby involves a pair of five-member teams. The skaters compete against each other in a series of jams, where members score points by lapping opposing team members. Usually both teams have a jammer, the fastest skater, who gets whipped out in front in an effort to overtake other skaters. The rest of the team tries to hinder the opposing jammer, effectively playing defense while the jammer tries to score on offense.

There are many all-female leagues both nationally and internationally these days. Roller Derby is being considered as a sport for the 2020 Summer Olympics.Roller Derby Bout Wellington's Richter City All Stars vs. Sydney's Assassins at the TSB Bank Arena on March 19, 2011. My first roller derby bout. Among the governing bodies of roller derby is the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) which has nearly 250 full member leagues around the world.

Funcity Sk8 & Play loves supporting local skaters interested in roller derby. Our 23,000-square foot facility in Webster is a popular family entertainment venue, which supports many local events, including roller derby leagues in Houston and Webster. We provide appropriate skating equipment like derby skates, and offer group rates and private sessions to team members looking to practice.

Are you interested in roller skating and competitive skating sports? Call Funcity Sk8 and Play to learn more about how you can get involved.

How to Get the Most Out of Skating Lessons

It’s officially summer vacation! What does that mean? More time for roller-skating, laser tag, and family game nights at Funcity Sk8. It also means there’s finally time to brush up on your skating skills (or master your wheels for the first time). Make the most of skate lessons this summer!

Funcity Sk8 Summer Lessons

funcity sk8Sometimes do-it-yourself ends in disaster. If you’re feeling unsure on your wheels, the best way to gain confidence and skill is to sign up for skating lessons. Funcity Sk8 has weekly skate lessons for kids in Webster. We also offer roller-skating lessons for adults. Our professional skate instructor will teach you the basics of safety, standing, movement, balance, speed, stopping, games, tricks, and more. Classes include one month of sessions on Tuesday nights or Sunday afternoons. Students will receive a new pair of roller-skates with their skating lessons.

How to Prepare for Skate Lessons

  1. Dress appropriately. Loose, comfortable clothing or fitted, stretchy exercise gear is appropriate skating lesson attire. And don’t forget your favorite socks!
  2. Come early. Give yourself time to stow your phone, check the fit of your skates, and settle in before the start of the lesson.
  3. Meet your instructor. You’ll feel more comfortable asking for help during your lesson if you introduce yourself beforehand.
  4. Come ready to learn. You won’t get much out of the class if you can’t take instruction. Come ready to focus, try hard, and ask for help if you need it.

Call Funcity Sk8 and Play to sign up for summer skate lessons.

Donkey Kong Turns 35!

Before there was Halo (or even the Xbox), there was a golden age of video games. Frogger, pacman, Donkey Kong, and Mario ruled this era of arcade games, Playstations, and Super Nintendo Entertainment Systems. Relive the glory days with Retro Game Night at Funcity Sk8 and Play.

Donkey Kong’s 35th Anniversary

retro game skate nightKids today might have their fancy graphics and in-game stories, but we’re harkening back to a simpler time, when every video game was cutting edge and every gamer pushed the boundaries. July 9th marks the 35th Anniversary of Donkey Kong, and we couldn’t let one of our favorite retro games go uncelebrated! Flex those fingers and grab your hammer. You’ll need to make it past Donkey Kong to save the princess.

Old school gamers, let’s show ‘em how it’s done.

Retro Game Night at Funcity Sk8

In celebration of Donkey Kong’s 1981 release, we’re transforming the rink into a haven for retro gaming systems and old school arcade games. Video game veterans and new players alike are invited to celebrate Donkey Kong’s birthday with us on Friday, July 8th.

  • Skate for $8, rent skates for $3.50, and get a bundle deal with pizza and laser tag for $12
  • Play retro arcade games
  • Beat old school consoles like N64, PS2, and SNES
  • Demolish Tetris Tots at the snack bar (yes, they’re actually tater tots shaped like tetris pieces!)
  • Give Donkey Kong a tower of tater tots for his final stand with the Tallest Tower Tournament
  • Whoever stacks the tallest tower wins a prize!
  • Was your tower in the top 3? Whoever eats their tower the fastest winds a 2nd prize

Let’s party like it’s 1981! To learn more about Retro Game Night and other summer events in Webster, call Funcity Sk8.

Have You Seen This Fish?

Have you seen this fish? We’ve checked Bruce’s meeting spot. We’ve been by P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney. She’s not floating around with Squishy or drifting down the EAC with Crush and Squirt. Even Nemo and Marlin aren’t sure where she swam off to.

But you find her! Help us find Dory at our Sea Scavenger Hunt on June 12th.

Have You Seen This Fish?

finding doryDory is on the hunt for her family, and we want to help her. But we have to find her first! The search is on at Funcity Sk8’s Have You Seen This Fish scavenger hunt. The prize? Dory’s eternal thanks . . . for the the 30 seconds she’ll remember you, at least. And a second prize you can hold onto: free tickets to Finding Dory! You and your kids are invited to join our fishy friends from Finding Nemo as they give us clues to Dory’s location. Float around the skating floor on this brand new adventure. Along the way you’ll find friendship, adventure, and fresh underwater themed snacks at our Snack Bar.

Here are a few clues to get you started:

  • What: Funcity Sk8’s Have You Seen This Fish? Sea Scavenger Hunt
  • When: Sunday, June 12th from 1:30-5pm
  • Who: You, your kids, the fish from Finding Nemo, and Dory (we hope!)
  • How: $8 admission (rental included)

The search is on! Put your skills to the test at the Have You Seen This Fish? scavenger hunt. To learn more about upcoming family events in Webster, call Funcity Sk8 and Play.

5 Fun Facts About Roller-Skating

How much do you know about your favorite pastime? Wow your friends and family with these fun facts about roller-skating.

5 Fun Facts about Roller-Skating

  1. girls roller-skatingIt started with a bang. The first pair of roller-skates was unveiled in 1760 by inventor John Joseph Merlin . . . at a party. One problem with this parlor trick: he forgot to practice, and quickly became the first skater to wipe out in front of his friends.
  2. It’s fitness (that doesn’t feel like fitness). Just an hour of moderate skating can burn 350-600 calories. No sweat!
  3. Beyonce loves roller-skating. Not only does one of her music videos feature a skating rink, she threw an 80’s throwback skating bash for her 21st birthday, complete with a roller-skate cake and plenty of celebs on the guest list.
  4. So did Prince. The late great artist Prince was also an avid skater. Questlove shared the story of the time he went skating with Prince: “Prince had the briefcase out on the floor. He clicked the lock and opened it, and took out the strangest, most singu­lar pair of roller skates I had ever seen. They were clear skates that lit up, and the wheels sent a multicolored spark trail into your path. He took them out and did a big lap around the rink. Man. He could skate like he could sing.”
  5. Even the Amish skate. The Amish live a simple lifestyle, forbidding cars and even bikes, but roller-skates are A-OK. In the 1990’s, the Amish youth hopped on the inline skating craze. Only a third of Amish leaders approved, disliking that inline skates let kids reach higher speeds than the traditional quad skate.

Test your skating knowledge (and your skills) at Funcity Sk8 in Webster, TX.


Are You Afraid of Friday the 13th?

You don’t have to wait until October for freaks and frights and things that go bump in the night. Halloween may be the king of fear, but Friday the 13th is like the king’s creepy old advisor: just waiting to jump out and take over. If you love spooky scenery, grim games, and that feeling of fear trickling up your spine, you won’t want to miss Funcity Fear Friday on May 13th.

Funcity Fear Friday

friday 13th skateEnter . . . if you dare . . .

If villains like Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Myers don’t scare you, Funcity’s Fear Friday will. Kids years 13 and up can test their horror film know-how with Five Night’s at Freddy’s themed laser tag–just don’t open that door . . . Skaters are invited to test their bravery with our Mystery Box Challenge. They may win a prize . . . if they don’t lose their hands first. Fear Friday creeps into Funcity Sk8 on Friday, May 13th from 7-11:30pm. General admission is $8, or get dinner, skating, and laser tag bundled for just $12.

Friday the 13th Facts

Are you brave enough for Fear Friday? Freak out your friends with these Friday the 13th facts.

  • Friday the 13th has been associated with fear and misfortune since 1307
  • The number 13 freaks out so many people that it’s pretty common for skyscrapers, hotels, and hospitals to skip straight from floor 12 to floor 14
  • For a month to have a Friday the 13th, it must begin on a Sunday
  • Every year has between 1 and 3 Friday the 13ths (2016 only has 1)
  • Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense and creator of Psycho, was born on Friday the 13th
  • The Friday the 13th franchise has 12 movies, a TV series, and several books

Check out the Funcity Sk8 calendar for more special events in Webster, TX.