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On your skates!

By SKIP BANDELE

From November 24, the Portimão Arena will be hosting the 55th World Artistic Rollerskating Championships 2010.

Around 1,500 performers representing 25 countries are competing in five different categories at both junior and senior level, solo and as pairs, over the following nine days until December 4.

Traditionally Italy are the dominant power in the sport and it’s skaters topped the majority of events in Freiburg, Germany last year.

However, Portugal’s Hugo Chapouto did take gold in the men’s senior solo dance where Paulo Santos finished in fourth place.

Other skaters from the home nation to look out for are Bruno Santos and Diana Ribeiro who both performed creditably in the men’s and women’s short and long course finals, while promising junior Ines Gigante only just missed out on a medal in her solo dance category.

Dance is also Britain’s forte with Darren Dyke and Kirsty Chick forming a formidable partnership and sisters Lynsey and Aimi Lightower capable of reaching the podium in the solo version. The popular Show category on the other hand brings out the flamboyant best in the Spanish who took gold in 2009.

Already from Monday spectators and fans are able to get a taste for what is to come by attending training sessions between the hours of 8am and 8pm free of charge ahead of Tuesday’s opening ceremony scheduled for 7pm. Thereafter tickets, of which special packages can be purchased, are available on the door from 10 euros per competition day. All junior skaters resident in Portimao are invited to attend the championships at no cost.

With Christmas in the wings, all fans of ice dancing have the opportunity to witness the world elite performing in a similar sport on wheels in what will be the first time for over 30 years that Portugal has staged these important championships.

More information is available under www.cmpatinagemportimao2010.coma