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Calgary is skating out of the COVID-19 blues

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Calgary has seen a resurgence in rollerblading and skateboarding, however this new wave of interest has made it difficult for some to get their hands on new equipment.

While Calgary may see some relief with COVID-19 restriction shortly, people jumping on two and four wheels to get outdoors and active. With more than 1,000 Kilometers of paved, multi-use pathways throughout the city, there certainly is no shortage of space to ride.

With multiple varieties of skating available to the public, ranging from dance skating all the way to high-speed longboarding, there certainly is something for everyone.

Rolling motivation

Many skaters have stated that they were motivated by the want to do something active while other activities around town were shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions. Rollerskater Robin Mot said that it has given her an active outlet during the pandemic.

“It has kept me sane through the pandemic. I spent more time outside this winter than I have in my adult life because I was out roller skating. We would shovel out our skating spot and we’ve been skating outside every month for the past year now,” said Mot

“It’s something you can do either by yourself or with your friends and follow social distancing guidelines. It’s been a way that me and my friends can dance and there hasn’t been anywhere to dance for the last year.”

Robin Mot and her Roller skating crew. Photo: ROBIN MOT / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Mot has also noted that alongside the physical benefits of skating more often that she also experienced mental health benefits as well.

“It has been great for me and my mental health over this pandemic. Even though it’s hard sometimes and you fall down you just gotta get back up and try again.”

Some Calgarians saw this as an opportunity to engage with their family members more and to spend time gaining a new hobby. New skater Abduallah Shaklaoon entered this sport for that very reason.

“It was something new to do with my younger sister and generally to get out more and be more active and not sit inside all day,” said Shaklaoon

Skating Shortage

This new gain in popularity for the sport however has led to a skate shortage around town. Mot experienced this when she tried to get new skates during the pandemic.

“When I got mine it was supposed to be about two weeks and it ended up being eight weeks before I bought them because I had to order directly from the manufacturer and they went on backorder.”

Kathleen Janzen, known better as Roxy in the skate community, has experienced this issue first hand. Being the owner of Nerd Roller Skates in Calgary, she has noticed a shortage in stock due to factory closures around the world.

“When a skate factory closes in China in January that means that you can’t get roller skates in April in Canada. When you combine it with the perfect storm of demand then it really creates some hiccups for sure,” said Janzen

Increased demand has made it difficult to get their hands on roller-skates. Photo: SPENCER YU / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Janzen anticipated that as a new wave of skating begins to settle that things will become more manageable.

“I think as new skaters start and then slowly shift to more long-term setups there will probably be a bit of a shift,” Janzen said.

However given the shortage of stock Janzen still recommends that new skaters go to independent skate shops due to the specialized knowledge that they can offer skaters.

“Do not buy your skates at the mall. Do not buy your skates from Amazon because when you come to a small skate shop you are coming to someone who is a skater themselves. They have a strong investment in your development as a skater and they want to see you succeed.”

COVID safe

There was some concern however that due to the increased usage of public spaces that it would increase the risk for catching COVID-19. However skater and COVID nurse Randy Thi said that skateboarding is low risk and a good outlet for those wanting to get active during the pandemic.

“With a sport like skateboarding or rollerblading there is more opportunity for social distance because you’re not in a confined space,” said Thi

“Ideally the best activity to do during the pandemic is none but that’s not really possible. People get agitated when they need to do something and I think skateboarding is a good outlet.”