Niagara Gazette

Sports

October 12, 2008

ROLLER SKATING: Local teen headed to Taiwan

When Niagara Falls’ Michael Cooper put on his first pair of roller skates at the age of 2, it was obvious to his father that Michael was destined to be a skater.

“Michael is a natural skater, just like Michael Phelps is a natural swimmer,” Michael’s father, Maurice Jr., said.

Michael, now 13, has qualified to compete in the 2008 World Roller Figure Skating Championships on Nov. 11 in Taipei, Taiwan.

“I’m excited to go to a different country,” Michael said of his accomplishment. “I had to practice hard everyday to make it, and I’m still practicing everyday.”

A member of the Rainbow Skating Club on Oliver Street in North Tonawanda, Michael captured the silver medal in the Junior World Class Men’s Figures at the National Roller Figure Skating competition held in July in Lincoln, Neb. He also took home gold medals in Freshman A Solo Dance and International Solo Dance, as well as bronze in Freshman A Boys Figures.

Michael additionally teamed up with his partner, Danielle Johnson, also 13 years old, to earn yet another gold at the nationals, this one in Freshman A Team Dance action.

“Danielle is a really good dance partner and keeps me on my toes out there,” Michael said. “In one-on-one (skating) she’s beat me plenty of times.”

Johnson, an NT resident, was quick to return the compliments.

“I’m really proud of him and I wish I could go with him to Taiwan,” she said of Michael. “I’ve known him since I was six — he’s like a brother to me.”

Johnson earned a silver medal in International Solo Dance in Nebraska, in addition to bronze in Elementary A Girls Figures and Freshman A Solo Dance.

Jane Wojanowski of Cleveland, Ohio, along with Maurice, coaches Michael and Danielle. Maurice, owner of the Rainbow Skating Club, has coached his son for as long as Michael has been skating.

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