DETROIT – Livonia-native Gene Kalmat came into the sport of roller figure skating out of necessity.
“It all started with my surgery,” Kalmat said. “I was born with Craniosynostosis, and I had to get surgery. I was never allowed to play contact sports.”
19-year-old Kalmat started skating at 7 years old and slowly rose in the ranks. In the last few years -- with the help of coach Tracy Black -- he’s grown exponentially.
“He’s more than focused,” Black said. “He’s a technician as far as learning the jumps.”
Kalmat got second at the most recent National Championships and is heading to his first Senior World Championship in Paraguay at the end of September.
The sport has all the same jumps as ice skating and the same spins, but it doesn’t have the recognition, funding or sponsorship as ice skating.
“One way for people get into this sport is for them to see it,” Kalmat said, “The figure skaters [started] because of public skating sessions and saying, ‘Oh, that’s so cool I want to do that.’”
While Kalmat trains, the University of Detroit Mercy student also works at Speedway to make ends meet. Whatever it takes he said because he loves what he does and it shows.
Black and Kalmat leave for Worlds on Sept. 27th.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for the trip. You can donate here.