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Profiles of the top skaters in the National Roller Cup


Joey Mantia, NROC leader

photo: Michael Chevedden

Joey Mantia

Age: 22

Team: Luigino/Answer

Hometown: Ocala, FL; currently living in Olympia, WA

World championships: 16


What are your goals for this year?

This year I want to skate and win all the World Cup races I attend [This interview was conducted on May 3. So far, he's won one and finished 10th in the other.]

I also want go to Outdoor Nationals and dominate, and then go to Worlds and get at least seven gold medals again.

Why seven?

Every year that I go to Worlds, I try to do at least as good as the year before. [Last year, he won seven: the 300m, 500m (track), 500m (road), 1000m, 15,000m (elimination), 20,000m (elimination) and marathon.]

Seven is going to be hard. But I like to set my goals high; it gives me something to work for and makes me train harder.

Is there a specific race you are targeting this year at Worlds?

Really I'd love to win the points race [10,000 meters] and the 200 [meters]. Those are the two races I haven't won yet.

The 200 is extremely hard. You've got the fastest guys in the world out there, and all they train for is the 200 and 300 [meters].

The 200 is such a technical race. It's hard for me to work on such a specific set of skills ... the start, the first transition ... when I have all the other races to worry about also.

Most skaters specialize in either long or short distances. But you've won at just about every distance. What makes you so versatile?

I don't know, but growing up Renee Hildebrand [his coach] always told us that we shouldn't focus on being sprinters or distance skaters; that we should do both.

When I was younger, I always thought I was a distance skater who could go fast. But the older I get, the more I feel like I'm a sprinter who can also skate long stuff. So, it's changing; I think it's because I am getting lazy the older I get (laughs).

What is a typical week of training like for you?

Living in Washington, where the weather is so bad, I have to be very flexible with my training. I don't have a coach right now; I don't have a set schedule; I just kind of go out and do whatever I don't want to do, which has always been the right thing for me, because, like I said, I'm getting lazier the older I get. If I don't want to do something, that probably means I should be doing it.

So, if it's raining out, I'll go to the gym and do a lot of lightweight, high-rep squats and leg work; and I do spin class three or four times a week; and recently, I got a bike, so I'm going to be hitting the bike a lot.

I also do a lot of indoor practice. But indoor is getting very hard for me because I'm getting bigger. The more weight training I do, even if it's lightweight, the bigger I get in the hips and legs. It's just genetics; I get really big really fast. And that makes it harder for me to turn indoors.

How come?

The heavier you are, the more muscle mass you have, the harder it is to drive the corners.

If you remember Chad Hedrick, he wasn't very good indoor as he got older. He wasn't bad when he was younger; he could win senior men's and was lapping the pack.

But then when he got serious about marathons and when worlds became his priority, he wasn't so good indoor anymore. I think it is just something that happens when you get bigger and older.

And besides, indoors isn't quite as fun for me anymore. I would rather be outside where I can utilize all my power. Indoors, I always feel like I'm sliding and can never get the full potential from my push.

Renee Hildebrand says you learned the double-push on your own. Is that true or did someone teach you?

People always ask me if I watched Chad or someone else. But honestly, I never did.

Learning to double-push is just something that came naturally. Being in Florida, I would skate just about every day. And doing all those miles, it [skating] becomes a natural movement, and then you just start double-pushing; something clicks and you realize you can skate on the inside and the outside [wheel edges] at the same time. And after that, I just really started paying attention to what my feet and hips were doing, and started figuring out how the double-push could work for me ... how I could make my skates more efficient.

Are you considering transitioning to ice at the end of the season?

I am. After Worlds, I want to go out to Salt Lake [site of the U.S. Olympic ice training program] and give it a shot for a couple of weeks.

From there, I'll probably make a decision on whether 2010 [the year of the next Winter Games] is a reality or not for me.

If I get out there, and I am good on the ice, then I will probably end up there at some point very soon.

If I get out there, and I like it, but I am a little rusty on it, who knows — maybe I'll continue to do inline for a couple more years and then give ice a four-year run for the next Olympics.

By that time you'll be 28 years old, won't you?

Yeah. ... I realize it's a little bit old, but then again you have some athletes in their prime who are older. Chad was pretty old when he won his gold medal, and Derek [Parra] was up there. ... Longevity is in my favor; in longtrack the older skaters are stronger.

How do you feel about moving to ice?

I like inline skating a lot, and everyone who does both says that inline is far more exciting and fun than ice. And as far as careers go, I'm doing well with inline skating.

Of course, if you go to the Olympics and are marketed correctly, you are pretty much set for life. But that's really the only advantage to ice in my eyes.

Ice is something I am looking at because of the Olympics. It's not because I want to get on the ice or think it is going to be a better sport or more fun. Ice seems kind of like a boring sport.

Inline is where my heart is at. It's what I've always done, and I feel like it's where I want to end up. Even after the Olympics, I might come back to inline skating ... you never know.

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