Video: Roller skater headed to Taiwan for world championship

Deborah Allard

When Joseph Farias III was a little boy, he strapped on a pair of roller skates like most kids do and headed out on the rink.

But unlike most kids, Farias has been skating through life (on $1,000 skates, no less, the titanium base from Italy and the boots specially made in San Francisco), picking up titles and trophies along the way.

The Fall River, Mass., native has been competing at the national level for 18 years and the international level for eight years. He will compete in the 2008 Roller Figure Skating World Championship in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, from Nov. 14 to 23.

Farias said he loves “everything” about skating.

“When I was growing up, it was a source of getting out of Fall River,” Farias said. “I didn’t have much in common with (the kids at school). They didn’t skate. I looked forward to the rink and my friends.”

He started taking public skating lessons and then private lessons. His first coach, Charlene Conway, saw something in him and developed his competitive side, he said.

“You get that first little taste. I was 16, maybe 15,” Farias recalled.

These days, he practices five days a week for about two hours each session. He also works out and does pilates to stay in shape.

When he’s not skating, Farias runs Celebeautique Hair Spa in Newport, R.I. He plans to open another salon in Providence and just started his own hair care product line.

Farias said he must really love skating because he just gave up his waterfront apartment in Newport to save money for the competition. He’s back at home with his parents in Fall River.

“It’s about the integrity and prestige of winning,” he said.

Farias won the U.S. National Championships in World Class Solo Dance (his specialty) in 2007, the first year the event was held at the national level, making history. He successfully defended his title this year.

He is also the country’s Roller Sports Skater of the Year.

Farias received a title as the USA Roller Sports Solo Dance Skater of the Year for 2007 and was part of the USA Roller Sports Dance Team of the Year for 2000 and Gold Medal Proficiency testing in American Team Dance for 1997.

“I worked at it for so long; I wanted to get the highest accomplishments,” Farias said.

This year marks the first time the World Class Solo Dance event will be held at the world championship.

“It’s the equivalent of the Olympics,” Farias said. “I’m hoping for a gold medal.”

Farias said roller skating isn’t as popular in the United States as it is in other countries. Ice skating, he said, “corners the market.”

“People just don’t think of figure skating as a kind of sport,” Farias said. “We’re hoping for something of a revival. Every year, we see new faces.”

Farias, 27, said he’s getting old for the physical training required to compete. But what his skates hold for him in the future depends on how he does at the world championship, he said.

He’ll be judged on free dance, strings of footwork, dance spins and jumps.

“I love the people and the competition,” Farias said.

Herald News