By Sondra Barr

Three Archway Great Hearts students in Scottsdale are accelerating their need for speed. Rihann Jha and his friends, sisters Hridya and Mishti Sapra are training for their next inline skating competition, after placing in the top of their age groups in the Saguaro Sunrise Skate & Run competition.

Held in Oro Valley at the tail end of 2019, Rihann, 7 years old at the time, skated to first place in the 5K Men 11 and Under division with a time of just under 23 minutes. His fellow classmate, Mishti, also 7 at the time, earned first place in the 5K with a time of just over 29 minutes, while her older sister earned second place in the same Women 11 and Under division. The popular race featured a total of 132 participants of all ages.

Now 9 years old, Rihann, a fourth grader, intends on lacing up his skates for an inline skating competition in Houston, Texas, in March, followed by a race in Salt Lake City, Utah, in April.

“My husband started training Rihann when he was 4,” says Aditi Gupta, Rihann’s mom. From there, Rihann would go to Great Skate in Glendale and practice in the park, working on his endurance and form.

“I practice my running and I practice going to the park on skates,” says Rihann, who performs crossovers, reverse skating, and jumping to enhance his skills.

The most challenging part about inline skating is getting the proper form, while trying to go as fast as possible, according to Rihann.

“The balance is also challenging. If you don’t know how to balance, you will fall down and can get hurt severely,” says Hridya, now 14. When she competed in the Saguaro competition, she saw a professional inline skater fall. “She broke her shoulder and couldn’t compete after that,” describes Hridya, an eighth grader.

To try and avoid injury, the trio wears protective equipment––helmets, arm pads, elbow, and knee pads––when they practice and compete.

“The thing I’ve learned with this is if you just go for it, it usually works out. If you hesitate you’re going to fall and get hurt. I just go for it most of the time,” says Hridya, who enjoys going fast. She came in behind her younger sister in the Saguaro Sunrise race because she had a few tumbles and hurt her knee.

Mishti admits to being “kinda scared” during the race, but says, “It was on the road. There was a track, so the cars obviously weren’t going to run into me.”

Since competing in their first inline skating race, the sisters have expanded their activities to include gymnastics, skateboarding, skiing, horseback riding, and more–-basically anything that involves going fast. Meanwhile, they still practice with Rihann and look forward to future inline skating competitions.