Taunton roller skater wins bronze in TaiwanBy MARC LAROCQUE , Associated Press
Dec. 1, 2013 12:31 AM ET
TAUNTON, Mass. (AP) — A roller skater from Taunton came home from Taiwan as a world championship medal winner.
Taunton's Katelyn Rodgers, along with her skating partner Spencer Swetnam, earned bronze medals for their performances during the junior class team dance competition at the World Roller Figure Skating Championships in Tapei City.
"I thought we skated very well," said Rodgers, 18, who is a student at Boston College. "My coach and partner feel the same way. We are very proud of the way we skated."
Rodgers and Swetnam, a 19-year-old skater from Portland, Ore., whom she met in 2011 at a national competition, came in third behind two teams from Italy, a country known for producing world-class figure roller skaters.
"I think it's really good to be the next runner up behind Italy," said Rodgers, who came back after the award ceremony on Nov. 9.
"They are known as a really good figure roller skating country. They get paid to skate. Schools are canceled when they have a competition there. They are like celebrities. Being the next team to place after them was extremely exciting."
Rodgers has been training as a figure roller skater since she was 8 years old, practicing at the Silver City Sports Complex in Taunton.
Rodgers said her greatest memory from the trip was getting to meet her figure roller skating idol, Melissa Comin De Candido, an Italian figure roller skater who won the gold medal at the World Competition five times, most recently in 2011, along with a silver and two bronze, in addition to six Italian championships.
"I cut my hair to look like her," Rodgers said. "She's my favorite person. She didn't speak English. But my coach told her I admired her, and asked to take picture. So we did."
For Rodgers, who was participating in her first world skating competition and her first major international trip, meeting the skaters from the other 36 countries was an "amazing" experience. The U.S. team met first in Los Angeles, before setting out to Taiwan under the "strict" schedule and supervision of the national team trainers in a style somewhat similar to Olympic competition. Rodgers said that her parents made the trip and watched her perform, but during the competition, she and others weren't afforded much time to hang out with family.
"It definitely was intense being there with all the competition from different countries," Rodgers said. "You aren't allowed to talk to each other until after the competition. Then, after you skate, everyone becomes best friends."
At the end of the competition, all of the participants were given large, stuffed yellow rubber duck dolls presented by the event hosts in Taiwan.
"It was absolutely amazing," Rodgers said. "All of the people of that country, they were super nice. But they are not very good at skating. They were all in shock. They kept asking to take pictures with us."
Rodgers said she got to flex her Spanish speaking skills that she developed in high school at Coyle and Cassidy High School when she met the skaters from Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries.
"I definitely learned a lot from watching the other countries," she said. "The best people in the whole world were skating there. It was a lot to learn. It was definitely an amazing experience."