Roller skating culture has been revived in Invermere. Photo by Kevin Nimmock

Roller skating culture has been revived in Invermere.Photo by Kevin Nimmock

By Breanne Massey

Pioneer Staff

Strap on some roller skates and step back into the 1940s with friends, families and visitors this summer.

Jason Stevens, who works as the ice technician at the Invermere District Curling Centre during the winter, has begun a quest to bring a retro trend back to life.

He purchased 270 pairs of roller skates from John and Janie Wainwright in southern Washington last week and filled up his Mazda CX4 to the brim to bring a blast from the past back to Invermere.

We actually had to close the doors (of the car) and keep feeding skates in, then roll the windows up to keep them all of them in there, said Mr. Stevens. When we (came home and) opened it up, there was an avalanche of roller skates.

The plan to collect vintage roller skates stems from a need to raise money to keep the venue open all year long.

Mr. Stevens had spent a substantial amount of time trolling the Internet for a roller rink on the verge of shutting down when he stumbled upon Golden Skate in Vancouver, Washington a venue that had been operating successfully for 71 years.

He initially expected to pick up 150 pairs of skates from the Wainwright couple, but was pleasantly surprised when even more were available during his trip down south.

Now, Mr. Stevens plans to meet with the Invermere District Curling Centre to discuss options that would enable the non-profit to host roller skating events for teens, adults and seniors throughout the summer months. He remains optimistic the summer series will bring additional revenue to the organization to help offset the operating costs of the venue.

The expenses for the club keep going up and its getting harder and harder to break even, Mr. Stevens explained. Were a non-profit society, so its not a matter of making a profit, but we need to keep our doors open.

Hes not the only person excited by the new purchase. Invermere Killer Rollbots roller derby team captain and fundraising organizer Jess de Groot hopes the popularity of roller skating will continue to surface and expand in Invermere.

Were really excited (as a team) because part of why we love roller derby is that we love roller skating, she added. A lot of the girls have started going to the skate park because its another way to use our skates and have fun and still be roller skating.

She explained her team is eager to spend time at the roller rink, and ultimately views it as yet another way to put their skates to use. Ms. de Groot is hoping theres an opportunity for the Roller Killbots to offer workshops on rollerskating to the community.

Maybe well get some new skaters out of it, maybe well get some kids interested and we could start a junior team or something like that, she added, while noting the popularity of the sport has immense potential to grow. I think its a really good idea, and its a good space for it Hopefully people will be really interested in it and theyll keep going.