Strategies for Safe Skating
How Roller Skating Centers Minimize Risk

Roller skating pros whizzing by can be daunting for less advanced skaters, and the role of the roller skating center is to provide a space for all levels of skaters to move about safely. Employee training in the area of safety is therefore critical.
Short of following the weak and wobbly skaters around the rink, employees of Extreme Action Park, Chocowinity, N.C. are on the alert at all times, said co-owner, Denise Vick. “Their job is to make sure the floor is clean so skaters don’t trip on anything, that kids are not misbehaving, and if they do fall to make sure they’re okay and look for clues if certain ones need help in getting up quickly.”
Vick is the second owner of the facility since 2005. Operating since the 1970s, it’s the only family fun center in Beaufort County for the small middle class family community. Vick has extended the activities to include a fun house popular for birthday parties, go carts and a game room.
Employees are taught the basic procedure of what to do in case of injuries and floor guards monitor the skate surface to be sure there’s no trace of candy or wrappers, gum, food or drink spills or anything potentially hazardous to skaters at California Skate Grand Terrace, Grand Terrace, Calif. In addition, said Manager Winfred Harris, “We teach the basics of skating, do a thorough cleaning before each skate session, and double check that nothing was missed.”
When skaters enter the facility, opened in 1985 and owned by Stan Carlson and Christopher Hughes, both who started out working for the original owners, the first signage they see lists the basic rules and regulations of skating activity and the rules of the facility. “The DJ goes over them in his announcements so skaters can hear them verbally spoken, too,” Harris said.
In Texan roller skating rinks, as is prevalent state to state, a common sign posted reads, Skate at your own risk, as it is at The Rink Family Fun Center, San Juan, Texas. Center owner Eric Pena, explained, “According to Texas law, the assumption of risk of the skater prevents us from falling into a lawsuit in the case of an accident.”
The 6,500-square-foot, family-owned center is centrally located and entertains a wide range of families of all ages. It’s been in existence for nearly four years, said Pena, “and we’re very involved with the community.”
Pena is well-aware of the various levels of skaters from beginners to advanced to intermediate and provides 20 triangular Skate Mate Trainers as available through the Roller Skating Association for children to develop balance and self-confidence as skaters.
At Funway Entertainment Center, Batavia, Ill., skaters can try on a Skate Mate to build confidence  though skating lessons are also an option, said Jodi Foland, manager of the center. “We look for beginner skaters and train employees to push the lessons, offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays a half hour before skating sessions start. During the busy season of the fall and winter months, we encourage kids to try out skating on the carpet first.”
For now, Foland, who has skated since she began to learn to walk, is merely testing out how the Skate Mate works in building confidence in skaters, and it’s not a full blown system at the center yet. “We use it to encourage skaters, to see that it’s beneficial to come in to our center and at least give skating a try.” Skate Mate information is posted and visible and skaters can use them as needed. Though rare, she noted that teen and adult starters might also want assistance. “It’s more a height requirement. If they have to slouch over to use the Skate Mate, they’re too tall.”
Besides the assumption of risk sign, additional signage informs skaters not to wear face masks or baseball hats which, Foland mentioned, could go flying and become a slip factor for others.
The center first opened as a skate rink in 1977. Owner since 1990, Bob Hanson adds new attractions or remodels on some level every two years. The rink is its original size as built in 1959 on a five acre plot of land. Serving a close-knit community it is the only center in the whole area offering a full scale gamut of center amusements for Fox Valley. Remarked Foland, “We pride ourselves on a clean center. Bob is always willing to help out and knows everybody. When new folks move in he introduces himself to the new family or home owner, and welcomes them to the center. The center is known as an ultimate fun center with other attractions like bowling, mini golf and go carts.”
Forty years ago, Elaine Baker’s parents chose college town Bloomington, Ind., wisely for opening Western Skateland. The major target for the family-oriented business other than the college crowd is the elementary age children from the area’s 15 elementary schools, along with associated PTOs, family and church groups. Part owner/manager Elaine Baker, who shares responsibilities with a sister, brother and the grandchildren of her parents, all of whom still come into work daily, noted, “We play hip hop and rap for the college kids and teens skating during later sessions.”
The family chose to maintain the look of the 12,000-square-foot hardwood maple skate surface, curved on end on the rotunda, without a finish because, said Baker, “if sealed after awhile it begins to look bad.”
The school community is part of the team that helps steady new skaters. The roller derby girls’team in Bloomington heads up and teaches the Saturday morning hour and a half long lessons at Western. Explained Baker, “Floor guards are busy during sessions where 200 skaters are on the floor at a time. Parents ask about lessons to give their children a sense of self confidence. Kids can get as many lessons as they want. The girls teach them to skate, fall, move and get comfortable before going into a session.” –

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