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Skating at Rose Gardens helped couple become national champs

Published on

Jake Romphf

A pair of high school sweethearts from Sarnia made skating magic together in the 1980s — not on blades but on wheels.

Marion and Robert Round were the master division dance roller skating champions of Canada in 1987 and 1988.

Dance roller skating is similar to ice dancing, in which skaters must use the entire rink for their compulsory and original routines.

Marion, 81, and Robert, 82, clicked immediately when they met in high school and have been together ever since.

“You never saw me without my husband and you never saw him without me,” Marion said.

The couple tried ice dancing at Sarnia Arena but found their true calling on the roller rink at Rose Gardens, the go-to hotspot for Sarnia youth that opened on the edge of Canatara Park in 1951.

“It got in our blood and man, we really went for it,” Marion said.

In their 20s, they began training with a coach in Mount Clemens, Michigan and entered competitions. But after competing for a few years the couple left competitive sport to raise three children.

Twenty-five years later, however, the Rounds – then in their 50s – decided to give it another spin.

“It was something we wanted to do and we wanted to do it together,” Marion said. “We went into it big time.”

In their first year back the Rounds placed 6th at the provincial championships in the 45-and-over age group.

“That only made us work harder.”

They made frequent trips to Burlington and Hamilton to perfect their routines, and that training paid off in 1987 when they won the provincial championship, and then took the Canadian national title.

“It was a dream come true,” Marion said.

Round said she used her original skates from 1951 at the nationals.

Now at the top of their game, the couple knew they’d have to work even harder.

“There’s always these people that are biting at you heels,” she said.

In addition to the out-of-town training they regularly practiced in Port Huron from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. The rink owner there gave them a key to train at night, and made a parade float with a ten-foot roller skate for the couple to ride on.

The Rounds repeated as national champions in 1988.

They retired shortly after to spend more time with their family. But the career brought many highlights, such as skating during the opening of the Skydome – now the Rogers Centre – as Canadian heartthrob rock band Glass Tiger played live.

They also gave a performance to figure skater Brian Orser, who gave them a standing ovation.

“We always had good chemistry. We could just know where each other were, said Marion, who hopes to attend the Rose Gardens reunion at the Canatara Park bandshell on Aug. 26.

“I remember it, every bit of it, as if it was still happening.”

 

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