Roller skating races spinning into Hermitage again

Apr. 25—HERMITAGE — After rave reviews from out-of-town participants last year, national roller skating races are rolling back into Hermitage this year.

Roller Skating Association International said it will hold its annual U.S. Roller Speed Skating Championship at the Olympic Fun Center in Hermitage from June 10 to 14. The center hosted last year's event.

"They said the location was wonderful last year, and they loved Hermitage," said Dawn Smith, who along with her husband Joe own the center. "They felt very welcomed here last year and thought our facility was very nice and clean."

There is a change from last year.

Historically the association held racing one week at a site followed by artistic roller skating — the equivalent figure skating on ice — the following week at the same site. This year the artistic competition is being held later in June in Union, Mo.

But our area got the long end of the stick on this shift. There are far more racers than artistic competitors, and overall more 1,000 people are expected to attend the local event.

"We've already set up blocks of rooms at area hotels," Smith said.

Last year proved the Olympic Center and greater Hermitage area can handle this big event, Peggy Mazyck, chief executive officer of the Mercer County Tourist Promotion Agency, said.

"Our hotels were pretty much sold out last year for this," Mazyck said. "And a lot of people going to the event were using restaurants all over."

The agency will be providing shuttle bus services for the event as it did last year, she added.

Daily race schedules are still being worked out. Competitors will spin into the center on Sunday, June 9, for workouts with races likely to begin the following day, Smith said.

Food trucks for the event will be offered.

Like an athlete undergoing training, Smith said the center is better prepared this year.

"After last year, it will be a little bit easier now because we have the experience and know what to expect," she said.