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Oaks Park roller skater heads to world championship

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Charles Hamblin gets his final instructions about the Junior World Class Mens Solo Dance Skating routine hell perform at the 2013 World Roller Figure Skating Championships, from Oaks Amusement Park Skating Rink Coach George Kolibaba.On Saturday, November 2nd, 14-year-old Charles Hamblin will be in Taipei, Taiwan, representing the USA at the 2013 World Roller Figure Skating Championships.

Just one month before, Hamblin paused from his rehearsal routine to talk with THE BEE about his career. “I started when I was 1½ years old – my mom was teaching ‘Preschool Skate’ here at the Oaks Amusement Park Skating Rink,” Hamblin began. “I just came, and I really enjoyed it.”

This led to him taking beginning roller skating lessons from his mom; and, by age four, he moved over to his current instructor, George Kolibaba. “I’ve been with George ever since.”

It takes a lot of time and work, Hamblin admitted, “But, I’ve fallen in love with the sport.”

Roller Figure Skating now has been recognized as more than just a pleasant pastime, he added. “It’s a competitive sport, and we are recognized by the International Olympic Committee as such – we actually made the sport short list for the Olympics.”

Hamblin picked up on our follow-up question before we asked it: “Yes, I hope to compete at the Olympics!”

His specific event, he said, is Junior World Class Men’s Solo Dance Skating. “It’s like ballroom dancing on skates.”

George Kolibaba joined the conversation, and said he started coaching in 1970. “But with Charlie, we started really young, and he’s done well. He’s won seven national championships in a row!

“This is his first time at the world championships,” Kolibaba said. “This is quite an accomplishment – for both of us. We have lots of skaters from our club win regional competitions and go on to nationals. I’ve had several do well in national competition. Charlie is obviously the pinnacle, going on to the world competition.”

Hamblin explained, “From the national competition, they take only two competitors from each event to the world championship. For as long as I can remember, making the United States Junior World Team has been my goal. As this is my first time, I am excited to fulfill that goal!”

He’s not sure how his life will change if he takes a gold medal at the world championship competition. “I’ll probably keep working at the Oaks Park Skating Rink in the skate shop, and keep on attending Roosevelt High School.”