Roller skating renaissance gathers momentum with new rink opening in Edmonton
Decades after the last rink in Edmonton closed, a new indoor space opens tonight.
Rollers Roller Rink, near Christy’s Corner on the St. Albert Trail, will be the only permanent rink in the province.
Claudia Garcia has owned and operated the Toe Stop Derby store for the past five years and has long felt that there was a demand for an ice rink in the city.
The expansion to an ice rink seemed like a natural progression, she told CBC Radio active.
“Technically, you’re not supposed to roller skate on sidewalks, so we have very little opportunity to skate,” Garcia said. “We don’t have space to practice.
6:35There’s a new ice rink in town
The new ice rink takes over an old gymnasium, which has been transformed into three skating surfaces, a small concession stand and two rest areas.
There’s even room for Garcia to set up his roller skate shop nearby.
“I’ve been looking for a location for three years, and it has been extremely difficult to find something big enough,” Garcia said.
When researching a building, the options were slim, like an old auto shop with oil still on the floor.
“The space is bigger than I wanted but he was ready to go,” she said. “But it just seemed like the perfect fit.”
The best part is that it is accessible by public transport.
She has many plans to become a city staple. Garcia wants the rink open for birthday parties – “not just for kids,” she said – and skating lessons.
“People who were roller skating all the time, they’re very excited because they didn’t have the space to roller skate,” she said.
And then of course there is roller derby.
Edmonton is home to many roller derby teams and Garcia credits the sport for inspiring his own passion for roller skating. She wants to have a space available so that they can practice in the winter too.
Garcia has already been approached by Oil City Roller Derby and thinks they are interested.
“They saw it and there is potential, sure,” she said.
Bring him back
The resurgence of roller skating can be attributed to the social media platform TikTok.
Garcia said she was surprised to see sales of quad roller skates skyrocket over the past 18 months, with sales increasing six-fold, she told CBC. Edmonton AM.
“It was just a good time for people to choose something active and something to do,” she said. “When you have all this time, why not.”
Despite the lack of indoor space, wobbly skaters could be seen on the trails around town last summer, with more experienced skaters passing by.
She points out that despite the trend of online sport during the pandemic, it has always existed.
“There have been different pockets,” she said. “Sometimes the derby is more popular, then there is roller dance or the skate park.”
But, with the promise of a disco ball and the addition of DJs playing requests, Garcia is hoping the ice rink becomes a city staple.
“We had a lot of interest from everyone,” she said.
“And you know, people want to learn something to do while it’s freezing.”