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The Sellwood Bee: Oaks Park Roller Skater Heads To World Championship

Pamplin Media Group | Nov. 1, 2013 2:36 a.m. | Updated: Nov. 1, 2013 10:21 a.m.

Contributed By:

David F. Ashton

Tomorrow, 14-year-old Charles Hamblin of Portland will strap on his trusty roller skates in Taipei, Taiwan, representing the USA at the 2013 World Roller Figure Skating Championships.

During a recent interview, Hamblin paused from his rehearsal routine to talk 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 said. “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 said, “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. 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 said 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.”

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