Rollerblading Returns

Remember the 1980s? Duran Duran? Shoulder pads? Rollerblading? Well, one of those is back.

On July 14, the first in-line skate 10K to hit Vermont in decades is coming to Burlington, along with regular demo nights at Burlington’s waterfront A-Dog Skate Park,  rentals, and weekly group blades. The race, which is free, starts  at 11 a.m. Saturday, from the skatepark and goes north on the bike path.

Jason Starr, the founder of PaddleSurf Champlain, a Burlington, Vt., stand up paddleboard shop founded in 2009, is setting up a Rollerblade rental kiosk at Oakledge Park on the newly improved Burlington bike path and a program of inclusive weekly group skates and instruction. “Burlington is an active, outdoor-minded town that is investing in its outdoor environment,” said Myles Cotter-Sparrow of Rollerblade, which is based in Lebanon, N.H.. “Having the bike path redone creates a conducive place for people to start skating.” Burlington’s 10K is one of several the company hosts around the U.S.

“You get all ability levels — kids, beginners, intermediates — the 10K is an achievable distance,” Cotter-Sparrow said. “It’s a way to get skaters together to meet other people who enjoy the sport and expands the sport to people who are just getting into it.” 

In-line skating has long been one of the ways that skiers have stayed in shape over the summer and Rollerblade’s  Skate to Ski video series has continued to be popular with alpine and freestyle skiers. Starr is a former competitive skier who has used blading for summer ski training. He is passionate about strengthening the two sports’ connection, teaching veteran bladers about the advances of today’s equipment and helping a younger generation discover the sport. Rollerblade, Blizzard skis and Tecnica ski boots are all part of one company, Tecnica, so the cross-over is not surprising. 

What is surprising, is why in-line skating ever fell out of vogue. 

 “Rollerblading was marginalized for reasons that have nothing to do with the sport itself — how it feels to glide and carve turns, what great low-impact exercise it is, what ideal cross training it is for winter sports, and how much fun it is. That is why it endures and is resurgent,” Starr says.

PaddleSurf Champlain is the exclusive locally owned dealer of Rollerblade skates in the Champlain Valley. Its lesson/rental fleet also includes skates from K2, an iconic ski brand, as well as Powerslide, a European company that has popularized bigger wheels that increase speed and efficiency per stride — including skates designed to be ridden off-road. 

“The PaddleSurf Champlain spot at Oakledge Park is the perfect launch point for a fun skate of the Burlington bike path, and leads to the A-Dog skatepark for street and park riders,” Starr said. “I am also excited about the trend toward off-road rollerblading and helping skiers discover offseason descents of some of our favorite winter lines, as well as skating Vermont’s classic dirt roads and world-class mountain bike terrain.” The PaddleSurf Champlain rollerblading kiosk will be open from July through mid-October.

JULY 7— Blade demo van at A-Dog Skatepark, Lake Street

JULY 14 — Rollerblade 10K on Burlington Bike Path, starting at A-Dog Skatepark

JULY 21— Blade demo van at A-Dog Skatepark, Lake Street

ONGOING — Thursday Night Blade, 7-9 p.m. Weekly inclusive skate from Oakledge Park to A-Dog skatepark and back with (optional) unwind at Switchback Brewery

ONGOING — Bladies Night, every Friday, 6-8:30 p.m. Bladies  (female skaters) rock the path from Oakledge Park to Waterfront Park and back