The Man on Wheels: Tim Yanko


The Man on Wheels: Tim Yanko

Tim Yanko's been on eight little wheels almost his entire life. "I was seven," he says when asked when he started rollerskating. "My little sister's girlfriend who lived across the street was an only child. Her mother always did really fun stuff and included us. She was taking the girls for skating class on Saturday and I just always went along. That's when the teacher, Judy, said, 'Stand up. I want to talk to your mother.'"

Yanko thought he was in trouble, but Judy actually wanted him to have individual lessons. "My mother couldn't really afford to give me lessons, so she babysat for Judy because all her kids were little at the time," Yanko says. "It was Judy who gave me my first pair of skates." Unlike other kids who grow out of their skates and then don't bother to buy new ones, Yanko kept rolling. He's been skating for more than 40 years, coaching and teaching at his first rink and second home — the family-owned Brookpark Skateland, where he's practiced since 1967.

He still competes with his skating partner of 11 years, Dina Beder, and has a closetful of trophies that attest to their skills. Serious competitors, even duking it out for first place in the U.S. Roller Figure Skating National Championships, the couple does like to have fun. "Dina and I have no kids and no animals, so we can spend our money on Swarovski crystals we slap all over ourselves," says Yanko about their elaborate outfits. «I am not glitzy in my daily life, but boy am I glitzy when I get on that skating rink. It's almost like an alter ego." Yanko doesn't think he'll stop skating anytime soon. "There was a point in my late teens or early 20s where I took a break, yeah. But it turns out it's in my blood, and I can't help it. I went right back."

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