Calimesa’s Lori Becker grew up while skating at the Stardust Roller Rink, an iconic 1950s-era venue which burned down in 2019. The rink housed many memories, but now Becker and her charges are all about making new memories. Lori and her old coach Verda Asman guide the Academy of Champions Skating Team. It is a quartet roller figure skating team that operates out of the Cal Skate Grand Terrace. Recently the four won the gold medal at the US National Championships in Iowa. The team consists of Kalei Becker (23, Calimesa), Chance Becker (18, Calimesa), Maddie Davies (17, Highland) and Evie Berg (17, Riverside). The four are also all employed at the Grand Terrace rink. The quartet has earned its way to represent the United States at the World Championships in Asuncion, Paraguay from Sept. 29 through Oct. 9. Chance Becker and Berg will also have an opportunity to medal at the worlds in pairs skating. The Artistic Skating World Championships is an annual roller-skating competition sanctioned by World Skate in which elite figure skaters compete. It was first held in 1946 and is regarded as the most prestigious of the sport. Skaters compete in many categories such as men’s singles, ladies singles, pairs, etc. There will be about 1,500 athletes from 30 countries participating. “I love skating,” Chance said. “I feel free on the floor and am able to express how I feel to the audience. I’ve been skating almost my whole life.” Chance has had problems with allergies and asthma throughout his life and was home-schooled. He attends the online Western Governors University and wants to earn a Master’s in aerospace engineering and work at NASA. But first there are the World Championships. The big event is also paramount in the mind of Davies of Highland, who attends Cal Poly Pomona and is studying aerospace engineering. “I love how physically challenging skating is,” Davies said. “I like to do what I thought I couldn’t.” Davies became part of the quartet when another skater dropped out at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic wreaked havoc in the sport which is essentially ice skating done on wheels – with all of the jumps, spins and intricate footwork of ice skating. The foursome was locked out of its training facility (Cal Skate) for a year due to California’s strict pandemic protocols. Roller rinks didn’t make the cut when it came to the color-coded tier system of when businesses could reopen. So the group took to practicing on any smooth piece of concrete they could find, including the basketball courts at Seventh Street Park in Yucaipa. Now the four face another challenge: Fundraising. Lori Becker says it will take about $15,000 to send the group to South America for the world event. Toward that end they were scheduled to host a World Team Kickoff Party and Fundraiser at Cal Skate at 2:30 pm. (through 6 p.m.) Sunday, Sept. 19. The event was to have included performances by the skaters, raffles, silent auctions, games and a public skate. Tickets to the event were set at $10, with another $5 for skates for those feeling energetic. But for Lori Becker who has dedicated much of her life to skating, the endeavor is about more than gold medals or a trip, it’s about a sport that has provided her and her offspring with so much. “Roller skating has shaped who we are,” she said. “It’s taught all of us how to set goals and attain them, how to be dedicated and follow through and how to get back up after falling.” To learn more about supporting the non-profit or joining the team, visit https://californiaskategt/academy-of-champions/ or call 1-909-353-8881.
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