DONORA (KDKA) — A skating rink in Donora is the home of champions, but it has nothing to do with ice.
Instead, we’re talking roller skates.
Rebecca Geisler, 12, of Carrick, practices under the gaze of rink owner and coach Linda Miner. Her hard work has paid off; she recently won a gold medal in her age group at the Roller Skating National Championships in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Coach Linda has been producing champions for 45 years. It’s a family tradition.
“My father was a skater,” she says. “He met my mom in a skating rink in Washington, Pa. My father mounted baby shoes on little handmade skates for me when I was a year old.”
She would skate competitively at the age of five, practicing at one of four rinks owned by her parents.
Miner recalls a time when just about every town had at least one roller rink. Now, Donora has the only competitive rink left in western Pennsylvania. But she says that may be changing.
“Skating is on the increase again,” she said. “More and more people are coming out to skate. I’m seeing families come back that I haven’t seen in years.”
Case in point: 9-year-old Karissa Miller gets tips from her mother Kathy. She has a good teacher. Kathy Miller won gold medals in 1989 and 1990 before taking time off to raise a family.
Twenty-one years later, in the 35-and-older class, she has won her third national championship. Her reaction? “Very surprised. Very happy, very surprised.”
Winning the gold never gets old. But that first one? Ask Geisler.
“All of a sudden they said first place Valley Skating Center. I just ran out there,” she said.
After all, she skated circles around her competition.
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