‘It caught everybody by surprise’: Roller skating makes comeback in Edmonton

EDMONTON — The pandemic helped a retro sport make a strong comeback in Edmonton.

Roller skating has surged in popularity and embraced a new modern-day revival.

“It caught everybody by surprise, not just our shop, but even manufacturers,” said Claudia Garcia of Toe Stop Derby Shop. “I’d seek out skates before the shipment even arrived.”

Garcia believes people had more leisure time imposed on them during periods when public health restrictions shut other activities down. Plus, skating can be done indoors or outdoors.

“(Many) were thinking, ‘What can I do,’” Garcia said, as she laughed.

The staple activity of the 1970s found a new following due in part to social media.

Garcia’s 16-year-old daughter, Braidi Gurba, teaches the sport.

“The majority of classes have been in beginners lessons,” Gurba said. “There seems to be more and more people coming.

“It’s almost full each time (we offer them),” she added. “A lot of people are interested in just starting out.”

The lessons focus on building confidence while skating and working up to some basic moves.

“It’s really versatile, there’s lots of things you can do,” Gurba said. “You can do roller dance, ramps at a skate park, use it for transportation, (or) roller derby. It’s really good exercise.” 

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