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Promise of free soda sparks a passion for skating

  • Petaluma's Aidan Eustace, 13, has won a multitude of trophies and medals since beginning his inline speed skating career at 8-years-old to get a free soda.

Almost anything can spark a life changing moment. For 13-year-old Aidan Eustace, the catalyst was a free soda coupon he found while lingering at the end of a friendly race at popular skating rink Cal Skate in Rohnert Park.

That soda coupon, promising sweet and bubbly refreshment, drove then 8-year-old Eustace to participate in his very first race on inline skates, which quickly transformed into a competitive passion.

“I got into speed skating because of my love for soda,” says Eustace.

But before Eustace could claim his sugary treat, he had to enter — and win — his first-ever race, and win he did.

“Afterwards, an employee gave me a “speeding ticket,” which was a flyer for the speed skating team. “I went to the first practice and became hooked on it,” says Eustace.

Fresh back from the national speed skating competition in Lincoln, Neb., Eustace just finished his most successful season yet.

“I got first at regionals, and then I went to nationals. I came in fourth in all of my races, and only the top three advance to finals, so I was that close,” says Eustace.

“Personally, I did great at nationals. I didn’t place, but I got some best times in my races.”

His mother, Claire Eustace, breaks down the division and distances that her son competes in.

“Aidan’s division has a short distance, a medium distance and a long distance,” she explains. “He’s in the freshman boys division, so he has a three-, five-, and 10- lap race,” says his mother. “Those are the distances he competed in at nationals. Before he got to nationals, Aidan was undefeated in all of those distances.”

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