Carmen’s our artistic speed-roller

Grace, style, coordination, strength and timing.

These are just some of the many attributes a free skating artistic roller skater needs to make it to the top in a sport that is perhaps little known to the broader public.

For Lewiston teenager, Carmen Bryant, this is only the beginning of a long list of skills she has acquired from a love affair with the skates.

A 15-year-old Year 9 Gawler and District College student, Carmen is making a name for herself in the sport she first competitively entered just two short years ago.

While she was just a two-year-old toddler when her parents, Carly and Ricky, introduced her to roller skating, she quickly developed a passion for the four wheels.

Both her mum and dad have represented Australia for in-line speed skating,  so it was a given she would learn how to skate at any rate.

However, roller skating is not the only sport this young lady has turned her hand to.

“I’ve played many other sports, I’ve literally being playing sport my whole life,” she said.

Rattling off activities the likes of calisthenics, horse riding, grass hockey, netball, and in-line hockey, it’s clear Carmen loves to give anything a go.

In fact, it was a unique roller skating jump taught to her by her aunty that sealed the deal for artistic roller skating.

“When I was playing (in-line) hockey, the last sport I did before I did artistic, my aunty taught me how to do a waltz jump,” she said.

“I was hooked.”

This aunty was none other than three-time world champion artistic skater, Tammy Bryant.

It would be fair to say skating is in the Bryant genes, and very much a family affair.

Carmen’s brother Michael, 13, has been national champion eight times for speed skating, while her younger sister, Rhiannon, 12, along with a variety of aunties and uncles, are also national-level skaters or cyclers.

Another Bryant aunty makes all of her impressive costumes.

“We just really connect through skating,” Carmen explained.

Carmen first started skating at the Gawler Recreational Centre one school holidays and before long, along with her brother and sister, had joined the North Vikings Inline Hockey Club.

She played with the club for three years before transferring to artistic skating, now skating for Team Skate FX, based at the Parks Community Centre in Angle Park.

Training up to seven days a week, with four-hourly training sessions, is a pretty heavy schedule, but Carmen assures me she loves it and it’s necessary to perfect the spins, jumps and turns required for competition.

“It’s not a one-time-a-week thing,” she said.

“It has to be your passion if you want to be good at it.”

Carmen attended the 2017 Oceania Championships held in Brisbane in September and placed first in her individual event, which was the cadet girls short program and cadet girls long program.

The scores are combined like gymnastics or ice skating to find the overall event winner.

It has been a big jump for Carmen having been the flower girl at the medal presentations at the 2015 Artistic National Championships in Adelaide, to winning gold at the National Championships in the preliminary division held in Melbourne last year.

Her next challenge will be the Asian Pacific skating symposium in Perth from November 29 to December 4.

This five-day event will see world champion skaters compete in front of international judges, and Carmen hopes to once again be on the podium.

“I really love it (but) I want to be somebody,” she enthused.

“I don’t want to be someone who just makes up the numbers.”

Currently competing in grade Cadets (13&14 y.o), Carmen will move up to Youths (15&16 y.o) next year.

She is working on mastering the double axel.

“The toughest jump to learn would have to be the axel,” she said.

“When you do all your single jumps, it’s one revolution in the air, but in the axel, it’s one and a half revolutions.

“It’s your first really big jump, you have to build up to it, and you really become a true skater when you can land this jump.

“You fall over more times than you land them unfortunately, but when you land them, you are just so relieved.”

As if this isn’t challenging enough, once the double axel is mastered, skaters go on to learn double jumps where they show they can jump higher and rotate more in the air.

Skating to music is a fun component of the sport for Carmen, who says judges like to see a skater who can skate to a variety of music genres.

Routines are often choreographed to movie soundtracks.

“You really just decide what music you are good at skating to,” Carmen said.

“Some people are really good at skating to slow music, others are really good at fast, strong music

“Right now I’m skating to “Find Me” by Sigma, it’s a slow and expressive piece.”

At competitions held across the country, five judges score skaters on technical merit, adherence to routine, and artistic impression or presentation during the routine.

It’s a tough and demanding sport but one in which Carmen has her sights set on becoming and achieving all she can.

Best of luck in your endeavours Carmen, you have already achieved so much.

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