You Can Thank Black Skaters For Your Trendy New Pandemic Hobby (2022)

Once considered an old-fashioned activity, roller skating is having a moment. There’s something inherently cool about roller skating: the knee high socks, the dangerously short shorts, the retro vibe that harkens back to diners and disco.

So it makes sense that during the coronavirus pandemic, after spending months at home stewing in our own existential dread, Americans have turned to roller skating as a means of escape.


‘It’s The Closest Thing To Flying’

Michelle Steilen, better known as Estro Jen in the roller derby world, is the founder and CEO of Southern California-based Moxi Skates, a young, style-forward brand manufactured by longtime skate maker Riedell. She believes roller skating as a pandemic pastime is a no-brainer.

“It’s the closest feeling to flying,” she said. “It’s really great to just tune out the world and it’s good for your mental and physical health.”

According to Steilen, sales at Moxi have grown astronomically since the pandemic began. The usual rate of growth for the entire Riedell brand house is 20% per year, while Moxi has grown at a rate of 50% every year since it was founded in 2008. “But since March, we’ve grown 1,000%,” Steilen said.

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That success hasn’t been without some major growing pains.

“[Customers are] just not used to American-made manufacturing,” she said. Because all Reidell products are handmade in the U.S., it takes a long time to put together a quality pair of skates. And due to the high volume of orders for Moxi, they’re experiencing production issues.

“We’ve got backorders in the tens of thousands,” Steilen said. In fact, the company had to open up a second factory in Arkansas to try and keep up with demand. However, with inventory completely depleted, customers have been forced to wait months to receive their skates. And they’re not happy about it.

That’s put a lot of pressure on Steilen and the Moxi team to educate new customers about the production process and ask for patience during this unusual time. “Ninety percent of everyone is new ... we’re completely overrun by new beginners and a novice market,” she said. “It’s just really a chaotic feeling.”

Even so, Steilen thinks the recent growth of roller skating is a positive trend. “We’ve always aimed to be the shoes of the future ... I’ve always known that this was possible.” She added that unlike other male-dominated skating sports such as aggressive inline skating and skateboarding, roller skating has managed to serve a whole female market that’s never been catered to before. And she believes this is only the beginning.

A Haven In Hard Times

Terrance Brown, a 31-year-old personal trainer living in Santa Barbara, California, is one of those new skaters. Brown, who trains professional athletes, lost 80% of his business when the pandemic hit. “That was a dark moment for me,” he said. “But then I encountered roller skating.”


As a muscular, no-nonsense trainer, Brown never entertained the idea of getting into a sport like skating before. His mother, who used to skate in her younger days, eventually encouraged him to give it a shot.

All it took was two lessons at Skating Plus in Ventura and he was hooked. He loved it so much, in fact, that he started stopping other roller skaters on the street to join him. The small group of skating friends grew into a club, which Brown originally called SB Roll Bounce, a reference to the 2005 film starring Nick Cannon and Bow Wow about a group of young Black roller skaters in the ’70s.

“It’s predominantly white people here in Santa Barbara,” he explained. “So they didn’t know what the heck [“Roll Bounce”] was.” In fact, Brown is the only Black person in his club. He got tired of explaining the meaning behind the club’s name, so he changed it to SB Rollers.

Cohen Thompson, 33, has been skating practically his whole life. He’s an active member of the skate community in Philadelphia, where he says roller skating has always been a popular underground sport. But when the pandemic hit, many of the skating rinks were shut down. “The kids and adults and I had nowhere to go,” he said. “That was our place of freedom. That was our place of stress relief. If you take those things away ... crime is going to happen.”


That’s one of the reasons his nonprofit Skate University, which operates in west Philadelphia, has been such a blessing. Through the program, Thompson teaches kids and families how to skate, which he sees as a healthy outlet for the participants. “It’s a character builder,” Thompson said. “They develop more self confidence and self-esteem.”

Until recently, you probably wouldn’t have recognized Thompson from any other skater on the street. The surgical first assistant by day, who traveled to New Jersey earlier this year to help out along the medical front lines of the pandemic, is known for a now-viral video dancing in skates and scrubs outside of MetLife stadium.

When he’s not treating patients, you can find Thompson hosting family-friendly events at the skate park he renovated with his own money, where he provides music, food and skate rentals for free. He sees it as a way to bring people together during what is a tough time for many. “This is just my way of just trying to make things a little bit easier on everybody else,” he said.

Skate University has also played a key role in keeping local kids safe and out of trouble, Thompson said. Thompson recounted how just last week, a child was caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting while sitting on his porch. That’s why, he said, any time the local kids call him up looking for something to do, he’ll head straight to the skate park after work and open up the gates for them. “That’s what Skate University is all about.”


Skate Culture Is Black Culture

From tattooed derby girls to fierce jam skaters, the skating scene is made up of a diverse crowd. But if you recently got into skating, especially through social media, you may not realize it.

Take a look at TikTok, for instance, and you’ll find a sea of young white women with hundreds of thousands of followers who fawn over their ability to sexy-walk backwards on skates. The app’s #rollerskating page, which boasts more than 1.7 billion views, declares that “#RollerSkating is back.”

But long before social media highlighted slim, blond 20-somethings in bell bottoms and pastel skates dancing to Fleetwood Mac, there was a vast community of Black skaters. There still is. And to them, roller skating isn’t “back” ― it never went anywhere in the first place.

Roller skating is deeply rooted in Black culture, which is responsible for developing the many forms of dance and jam skating that exist today. There’s a unique style for just about every major city. In Chicago, for instance, it’s “JB-style.” In Philadelphia and South Jersey, it’s “Fast Backwards.”


Like so many trends to emerge from Black culture, the history of roller skating is marked by racism. Rinks were battlegrounds during the civil rights movement, when Black skaters who protested segregation faced violence by white patrons and police alike. “During those times, skating kept the Black community together,” Brown said. “Once you unlace those skates, it’s back to reality. But when they were skating, they bonded ... It was a foundation.”

In later years, segregation was coded as “adults-only” sessions or “urban night,” while many of the rinks that served primarily Black communities shuttered. Today, discrimination still echoes: It’s not unusual for white-owned rinks to institute dress codes that ban saggy pants and hoodies, as well as prohibit the micro wheels favored by advanced jam skaters. Owners contend that overly loose clothing is a safety hazard, and the tiny, ultra-hard wheels scratch the flooring. For Black skaters, though, it can feel like a ban on their entire subculture that’s responsible for making roller skating so popular in the first place.

Brown said he is thankful for the Black skaters before him who fought for their place in the rink. Without them, he probably wouldn’t be sharing his passion for roller skating as the leader of a club in a predominantly white beach town.

“It’s not a revival of roller skating ... I think ‘a resurgence in sales’ is appropriate.”

- Michelle Steilen

“Roller skating rink culture has always been a Black community that has kept roller skating alive since the very beginning,” Steilen said. “It’s important that the Black community is highlighted and acknowledged for their contribution to roller skating in all of these stories.”


Steilen also said that the newfound interest in roller skating shouldn’t be called a comeback. “It’s not a revival of roller skating ... I think ‘a resurgence in sales’ is appropriate.”

Thompson said he isn’t too concerned with who gets into roller skating these days, even if that means a lot more newbies who might not understand the history behind their new hobby. “It’s not a bad thing. We just don’t want it to be a fad,” he said.

To Thompson, skating is the glue that holds communities together, and he’s going to keep doing everything he can to make life better for others through skating. “I’m just trying to reach as many people as possible so I can go to heaven. That’s it.”

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(Video) 1 year old doing backflips!


What did skating commentators say? ›

One called a 16-year-old skater "a sight for sore eyes." "Hello @ISU_Figure The commentators on your feed noting that a female partner is 'taller and heavier' is just not at all necessary and super inappropriate. That was just one of many ridiculous statements made today," pairs skater Kirsten Moore-Towers tweeted.

Why skating is a good hobby? ›

Skating Can Lift Your Mood and Improve Your Health

All of those physical health benefits of skating are great on their own, but add in the fact that more physical activity can be good for your mental health, and it's clear that roller skating is one of the best hobbies you can get into!

Are there any black figure skaters in the 2022 Olympics? ›

Black Canadian professional figure skater Elladj Baldé has arrived at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics with hope for a more inclusive future in skating.

Is roller skating trendy? ›

Roller skating is trendy,” she said. “I think people are looking for something to do, and it's very accessible.” Since stay-at-home measures took effect this spring in the United States, roller skating has been making a comeback.

Is figure skating considered a sport? ›

Figure skating is a sport in which individuals, pairs, or groups perform on figure skates on ice. It was the first winter sport to be included in the Olympic Games, when contested at the 1908 Olympics in London.

Who is commentating world figure skating? ›

He was teamed with sports commentator Terry Gannon and fellow figure skater Tara Lipinski; also in 2014, they became NBC's primary figure skating analysts, commentating for skating in two Olympics.
Johnny Weir.
Representing United States
Men's Figure skating
World Junior Championships
2001 SofiaMen's singles
U.S. Championships
12 more rows

Why skating is important? ›

Skating works nearly every muscle group in the body, and gliding requires synchronized movement of the legs, which is important for joint flexibility. It also builds up the leg and abdominal muscles. Like any workout, skating is great for cardiovascular health – it gets blood pumping and the heart rate up.

Why do I like skating? ›

It's Great Exercise. Most of us don't get as much physical activity as we should for optimal health. Roller skating is a perfect way to change that, because it provides a complete aerobic workout, but will be fun enough that you barely notice. Plus, it's easy on your joints.

What a hobby means? ›

Definition of hobby

: a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation Writing is just a hobby of his. Her hobbies include gardening and bird-watching.

Why do female figure skaters wear tights? ›

Because skaters can trip over their own laces. And having tights cover the laces removes that potential snafu, which would cost a competitor a medal. Some skaters also wear tights over skates for the same reason women might wear nude-colored high heels: It creates the illusion of longer legs.

Why are there no Black ice skaters? ›

Black figure skaters were never formally banned from competing, but Jim Crow laws and socioeconomic barriers have limited access. Black athletes in the U.S. were never barred from competing in figure skating, but Jim Crow laws that persisted into the 1960s restricted access to the sport.

Why did they eliminate figures in figure skating? ›

The elimination of compulsory figures from competition in 1991 gave an advantage to the more athletic freestyle skaters. Until the late 1980s, skaters who were good at figures could win competitions without having strong freestyle-skating techniques, since compulsory figures were the most important part of the sport.

Why is roller skating so popular? ›

The thrill of skating has never gone out of style. It has become a hobby for many children and young adults. Roller skates are mostly preferred among small children due to their safety brakes. Many teenagers and adults use roller blades as their skating option because of its modern outdoor appeal and easy usage.

Why is roller skating so hard? ›

The challenge with inline skates is to build your ankle strength as balancing on one line of wheels does put pressure on your ankles and feet. The truth is BOTH types of skates - inlines and quad roller skates - are hard at first as they require balance, core strength and leg strength.

Who is the roller skating girl on Tiktok? ›

Ana Coto ( Roller-skate Girl) Tiktok Compilation.

Where is ice skating most popular? ›

While the USA and Russia dominate in overall numbers of participants, it is Asia that leads the way when it comes to ice skating popularity. China, Japan and South Korea are all among the top with the most ice skating fans who tune into watch their favorite skaters in competitions and ice shows.

Is figure skating the hardest sport? ›

I can say honestly, however, that figure skating is the hardest sport and therefore the most rewarding. While the stereotypical figure skating music is soft and slow and pretty, the people who compete with it are tough, fierce and driven.

What sport is considered the hardest? ›

Boxing. The Sweet Science. That's the sport that demands the most from the athletes who compete in it. It's harder than football, harder than baseball, harder than basketball, harder than hockey or soccer or cycling or skiing or fishing or billiards or any other of the 60 sports we rated.

What does kiss and cry mean Olympics? ›

The “kiss and cry” is where skaters begin processing what just happened, where the first seedlings of regret sprout and, for a lucky few, where they'll get the best news of their lives.

Did Johnny Weir win gold at Olympics? ›

Johnny Weir, two-time Olympic gold medalist, won the gold medal at the 2005 us figure skating National Championships.

How did Tara and Johnny become friends? ›

Their connection only came after both had retired from the sport and partnered on the small screen in 2014. "Obviously we knew of each other for so many years, skating's a small world, but we never really had time to connect or build a friendship or a relationship," explains Lipinski.

Is skating a sport or hobby? ›

Skateboarding has established itself as a professional sport while still maintaining its independence from traditional team sports. Snowboarding and in-line roller-skating have been heavily influenced by skateboarding techniques and culture.

Why skating is important for students? ›

Skating helps your child build their endurance at a young age. It helps in strengthening muscle endurance. If your child learns to skate skillfully, uphill climbs train their muscles along with their cardiovascular system to utilize their energy more efficiently.

Is skating a good exercise? ›

Skating is a great cardio workout that not only builds your leg muscles but your upper body muscles too, as you're rotating your upper torso and using your arms and shoulders to “pump” while you skate. The motion of roller skating also leads to physical benefits, including increasing your balance and coordination.

What is a good age to start skating? ›

Somewhere between the ages of three and five, kids are ready to start on skates, says De Vito, a professional skating coach who's been in charge of the preschool program at the Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club in Waterloo, Ont., for five years.

Does skateboarding help with anxiety? ›

A joint research project between Instinct Laboratory and Flo skatepark has shown that there's a strong correlation between people who skateboard and improved mental health – skateboarding can “reduce stress, increase confidence, and provide escapism”.

Why is skateboarding so addictive? ›

Endorphins. Endorphins are basically the hormones that alter your mood, specifically they give you a good feeling. During times of physical stress, from exercise, injury, or doing an exhilarating activity (riding a waterslide for example), your body releases endorphins that alter your brain to give you good feelings.

Why hobbies are important in our life? ›

They give you something to do when you find your- self with nothing to fill your time. They also give you an activity that you can look forward to and get excited about. It helps you develop new skills. A hobby that you really dedicate your time to will lead you to build new skills.

How do I write an essay about my hobby? ›

I have enrolled in dancing classes because I wish to make my hobby my career. I feel we all should do things which we enjoy doing. Everyone is running after money and in this race, they give up their likings and preferences. I have learned from this race and decided to not take part in it.

Do figure skaters wear pantyhose? ›

under debate, let's get something straight: figure skaters do not wear tights. At least, not the version most people are used to. Former figure skater Johnny Weir explained to Cosmopolitan that figure skaters' tights are actually leggings.

Why do skaters tape their boots? ›

It is used to protect the leather from scrapes, scratches and scuff-marks and also to give the skates a remarkably clean, bright look that no polish can match.

Why do figure skaters wear socks over their skates? ›

Figure skates are so cute, why cover them?” In addition to the style, wearing tights over figure skates serves a practical purpose -- to keep the figure skater from tripping over her own laces, which could be as painful as it would be embarrassing during an Olympics competition.

Who is the first Black figure skater? ›

10:32 AMMabel Fairbanks was the first African-American inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Her story: Fairbanks, of African-American and Seminole descent, was born in the Florida Everglades. She was orphaned at age 8 and moved to New York City with her brother.

Is ice skating a white sport? ›

The historical traditions that have racialized figure skating as a 'white sport' for people with privilege continues to influence figure skating culture today. Despite figure skating being accessible to Bonaly, it did not necessarily mean that she was favoured in a sport that was predominantly white.

Has there been any Black figure skaters? ›

Then in 1988, Debi Thomas won bronze, making her the first Black American to medal at the Winter Olympics. But there still aren't many Black figure skaters, especially in the upper echelons of the sport. Since Thomas, only one Black American figure skater has gone to the Olympics — Aaron Parchem in 2006.

Why is it called figure skating? ›

Its name derives from the patterns (or figures) skaters make on the ice, an element that was a major part of the sport until recently. There are various kinds of figure skating, including freestyle, pairs, ice dance, and synchronized team skating.

Do figure skaters still do school figures? ›

Although few skaters continue to practice compulsory figures, and few coaches still teach them to skaters, some skaters and coaches believe compulsory figures give skaters an advantage in developing alignment, core strength, body control, and discipline.

Do Olympic skaters still do school figures? ›

While figures were removed from international competition in 1990 they continue to be practiced today by those skaters seeking maximum edge control, core strength, unerring mental discipline and pristine basics — all of which remain the basis for successful figure skating.

When was skating most popular? ›

In the US it grew in popularity until it peaked around 1963, before a crash in the market in 1965. Skateboarding was seen as a fad that had run its course.

What do you wear roller skating? ›

A helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards are always a good idea. Don't wear anything restrictive. Jeans are generally a little too stiff and will hamper your movements. Short or tight dresses or skirts should also be avoided as they are too restrictive.

How do you stop roller skating? ›

Stopping on Roller Skates - Easy - YouTube

How difficult is skating? ›

Skateboarding requires a mix of dexterity, coordination, and persistence to progress in the sport. It can also be incredibly unforgiving as failing often means slamming into concrete. Progression of even the simplest tricks often takes months for beginners as skateboarding has a very steep learning curve.

What's harder roller skating or ice skating? ›

Is it easier to roller blade or ice skate? Rollerblading is easier because the wheels are wider than the ice skate blade.

How do you look good in roller skating? ›


Is roller skating back in fashion? ›

But while gliding around on classic skates might bring to mind images of vintage fashion — think bellbottoms, paisley prints, and high-waisted jeans — this retro sport is now making a very modern comeback.

Is roller skating trendy? ›

Roller skating is trendy,” she said. “I think people are looking for something to do, and it's very accessible.” Since stay-at-home measures took effect this spring in the United States, roller skating has been making a comeback.

Who are famous roller skaters? ›

Roller derby
  • Ashlie Atkinson.
  • Bill Bogash.
  • Toughie Brasuhn.
  • Ann Calvello.
  • Alex Cohen.
  • Danielle Colby.
  • Shauna Cross.
  • Lezlie Deane.

Are Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir still friends? ›

These two are BFFs.

Johnny and Tara weren't in competition at the same time, and they met after they had both retired from skating. "Obviously we knew of each other for so many years, skating's a small world, but we never really had time to connect or build a friendship or a relationship," Tara told People.

Why is there no commentary on Olympics figure skating? ›

"The announce teams for these Olympics, including figure skating, will be calling events from our Stamford (Connecticut) facility due to COVID concerns," an NBC Sports spokesperson said in an email to NPR.

Why are there no figure skating commentators? ›

There is no place for harassing and abusive language or remarks and behavior in sport and our society,” the statement said. “The ISU took instant action with its service provider to suspend both commentators with immediate effect and neither will cover any future Figure Skating events for the ISU.”

Why is Tara Lipinski not at the Olympics? ›

Despite her young age, 1998 was the only year that Lipinski competed in the Olympics. She turned professional later in 1998, which made her ineligible compete in the Olympics again. Lipinski retired from figure skating in 2002.

Are Tara and Johnny going to Beijing? ›

Figure skating announcers Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will be joined by Terry Gannon to call the expected extravaganza from Chinese capital, we've learned. The trio also handled announcing duties for the Closing Ceremony of the Tokyo Summer Olympics last year and for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Who is Tara Lipinski's partner? ›

Personal life. In June 2017, after two years of dating, Lipinski married sports producer Todd Kapostasy. They met in May 2015, at the Sports Emmys, when Lipinski presented Kapostasy an award. Johnny Weir was a bridesman and Scott Hamilton was a guest.

What does kiss and cry mean Olympics? ›

The “kiss and cry” is where skaters begin processing what just happened, where the first seedlings of regret sprout and, for a lucky few, where they'll get the best news of their lives.

What did Valievas coach say? ›

Kamila Valieva's coach criticized the 15-year-old skater right after she fell at the Olympics: 'Why did you stop fighting?' The Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva placed fourth in the women's free skate at the Olympics. The gold-medal favorite fell twice during her routine and was visibly upset as she left the ice.

Who is the best women's figure skater of all time? ›

Sonja Henie

Often considered the greatest figure skater in the history of the sport — male or female — Norway's Henie won Olympic gold three times in ladies' singles (1928, '32 and '36) and a remarkable 10 consecutive world titles from 1927-36. Those combined championships are the most of any female.

What is the best figure skating performance of all time? ›

Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean - 1984 Olympics (Ice Dancing) Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean triumphed at the 1984 Winter Olympics with a long program that remains the highest scoring single program in the history of figure skating.

Is anyone watching the Olympics? ›

The Games drew their lowest U.S. ratings ever. Reports released Monday indicate there was an average total audience of 11.4 million viewers for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. That is a sharp decline from the 19.8 million average for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Who from the Today show is going to China for the Olympics? ›

USA Today reported that main Olympic anchor Mike Tirico would be in China for the Games' opening ceremony on February 4, before heading back to the United States a few days later. NBC officials said the coverage plan for Beijing was similar to the strategy used for the Tokyo Olympics last year.

Who from NBC is going to Winter Olympics? ›

NBC LX's Fernando Hurtado and Ngozi Ekeledo will be covering the Olympics in Beijing alongside prime-time host Mike Tirico, while most other NBC correspondents will be reporting from their headquarters in Stamford, Conn., due to COVID-19 concerns.

Why is Alexandra Trusova so upset? ›


She said afterward she was upset with the judging and explained that her outburst was due to her "emotional" state at the time as a result of missing her family and dogs. She didn't go as far to commit to the world championships next month.

Why was the Russian silver medalist figure skater upset? ›

Trusova was apparently annoyed that her five quadruple jumps didn't earn her gold over the winner, teammate Anna Shcherbakova.

Why was the Russian figure skater so upset? ›

Russian skater Kamila Valieva fails to medal amid controversy. Russian star Kamila Valieva burst into tears Thursday as she missed out on a medal in the women's figure skating after a performance filled with mistakes and haunted by the doping saga that has come to dominate the Winter Olympics.


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