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From the front page of the Napa Valley Register

Future Olympic skaters take to the Trail

by VIVI STENBERG-WILLIAMS              

Register Staff Writer

If the success of former inline skaters in the 2002 Winter Olympics was an indication, Napans might catch glimpses of future Olympic champions on Sunday during the Calistoga Roadskate on Silverado Trail. Just don't plan on taking in the sight of the 150 skaters from the comfort of your car. For the first time in the history of' the race, organizers have been allowed to close off a 12.5-mile stretch of the Trail. From 7 to 8 am Sunday, skaters from around the state and the Country will blaze the Trail, starting at the Silver Rose Winery at Rosedale Road and reaching the finish line at Conn Creek Winery at Conn Creek Road..

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We want to elevate our sport,"' said David Miles; race organizer and founder of the Califomia Outdoor Rollerskating Association. "The benefits of skating aren't just physical, it breaks down a lot of barriers."

Miles said inline skating is riding a wave of attention after the Winter Olympics. Olympic speedskating gold medal winner Derek Parra and bronze medalist Jennifer Rodriguez both donned wheels before they hit it big on the ice, Miles said. Also, inline skaters are pushing to make the sport an official part of the Summer Olympics in 2004.

In Napa Valley, the roadskate has a nine-year tradition, although it used to have a different start and finish line.. At its peak, more than 350 enthusiasts participated in the "Roll through the wine country," but in 1997 the Califbrnia Highway Patrol spotted and stopped racers in the middle of the roadway. In races since, participants have had to skate on the left-hand side, facing oncoming traffic, and Miles said the popularity of the event declined. Since the incident in '97, Miles said the group has worked closely with the CHP and the Napa County Board of Supervisors to allow the skaters full access to the road.

On Sunday, a 12.5- mile stretch of the Trail will be completely dedicated to the race. "The CHP will help redirect traffic through Calistoga at the north end of the course and at Oakville Cross Road south of the finish line", CHP Officer Dennis Yates said.

"The thing is, when people think of skaters, they think of skateboarders:" Miles said. "We've used the time to tell Napa officials who we are and' that we'll work with them. This is our chance to show people that we are serious." Organizers said the event is open to everyone, regardless of skill level and equipment, but helmets are mandatory and protective gear is recommended, Mites said.

Prizes will be awarded to the top five men and women in the elite class and the top three men and women in the eight different age categories ranging from "junior" (13 and under) to "immortal" (60 and up). "People are coming from all over to participate and many plan their vacation around this event," Miles said. "Napa Valley is an easy sell."

Organizers are accepting day-of-race registration. For more information, call (415) 752-1967.