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CLOSE-UP : Gertz Spinning, Twisting to the Top

Eric Gertz is on a roll. Gertz, 15, of Woodland Hills placed third recently in the National Artistic Roller Skating championships in Lincoln, Neb.

It was the most recent impressive showing by the El Camino Real High sophomore, who has made a steady ascent through the artistic roller-skating ranks ever since he laced up his first pair of skates four years ago.

Artistic roller-skating, like figure skating, calls for competitors to perform required figures, as well as the jumps, spins and twists characteristic of a freestyle routine.

The key to artistic roller-skating is the ability to do all of the tricks with 10 pounds of wheel weight buckled to the bottom of your boots.

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Gertz stays in top form by practicing six days a week under the tutelage of his coach, Larry Thompson.

“Last year he was the new kid on the block,” Thompson said. “Now, he’s been thrust into the spotlight. He’s showing he can handle pressure quite well.”

Gertz is looking forward to 1988 when artistic roller-skating may become a demonstration sport during the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, .

To become an Olympian, Gertz realizes that some sacrifices must be made. Lately, however, there have been times when even Gertz has been beckoned away from the rink to answer the call of another set of wheels.

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“I’m almost 16,” Gertz said. “I’ve got to take driver’s education.”


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