COLUMBIA - Emma Trent has been skating since she could walk. Growing up with parents who own a roller rink, she had the opportunity to start roller skating at a young age.
When Trent was 7, a college student came into Empire Roller Rink, a Columbia rink owned by Trent's parents, expressing an interest in teaching artistic roller skating. From that day, Trent was hooked.
With a second-place finish at the USA Roller Sports National Championships in Lincoln, Neb., at the end of July, the 17-year-old qualified for the World Roller Figure Skating Championships, which take place in New Zealand at the end of September.
"I'm looking forward to the whole experience," Trent said. "I get to represent the U.S. doing what I love to do."
She practices figures and loops two to four hours a day, six days a week. This form of artistic roller skating requires skaters to trace lines, known as figures, painted on the wood floor, having only one skate on the ground at a time. Loops are smaller circles that force Trent onto two of the four wheels of her skates as she turns.
Skaters train on more than 24 figures, but when it comes time for competition, only four of those 24 are chosen.
"It's kind of difficult sometimes because there are so many (figures)," Trent said. "I have to make sure I have plenty of practice time to make sure it's all ready for when they choose the figures."
This is Trent's second trip to a world championship after competing in Brazil last November. She finished fourth out of 33 skaters in the junior world level, which consists of competitors 19-and-under. Trent originally didn't make last year's team, but when the girl who placed second chose not to go, she took advantage of the opportunity.
"It was really exciting that I got to do it," she said. "Competing against 32 people who had probably already been there before made it nerve-wracking but exciting."
"We were wanting to just get in the top 10," Trent's mother, Lisa, said. "That was our goal. It was exciting just to be there. We had no clue she would do so well. Coming in fourth in her first worlds was pretty impressive."
Lisa Trent has seen her daughter put in hours of work over the last seven years of competition.
"To watch her be alone and train when her friends are out doing stuff, it's special," she said. "She's grown up since she started this sport, in many areas, not just the athletic part."
Her determination can be seen in her focused stare as she skates around the rink, carefully gliding over each line on the ground, keeping her body steady and poised.
"I aspire to one day win the World Championship," Trent said. "It's what I love to do. I can't imagine my life without it."
Supervising editor is Matt Veto.