Rollerblading: Utah’s new favorite pastimeOct 15, 2020 11:12AM ● By Tavia Dutson
Hayden Duffin on a sunset rollerblade ride on the Porter Rockwell trail. (Tavia Dutson/City Journals)
By Tavia Dutson | [email protected]
With the closing of gyms due to COVID-19, many Utahns had to find new ways to exercise. This search brought back one 90’s favorite—inline skating, commonly known as rollerblading.
“When kids are out of school, the routine gets broken. That’s when people say, ‘Hey, I’ve been wanting to do this, let’s get into it,’” said local shop owner Eric Kraan.
Kraan and his wife Kimberly own and operate the SkateNow shop in Sugar House. They have run the shop since 2011 and the recent spike in rollerblading popularity has left them unable to meet the demands of the locals.
“There’s definitely been an increase in the last three to four years—gradually and slowly. Then it just exploded,” Kraan said.
Some might ask why rollerblades? To answer that, one might look at this year’s brief ski season.
“On the local front, we found the resurgence interest rooted in skiers who had their season shorted due to resort closures in March,” Kraan said.
Skiers turned to rollerblading to stay in shape. Inline skates activate the same balancing muscles of the lower leg that are critical for skiing, making it one of the more comparable cross training activities available.
One of these lifelong skiers-turned-bladers is Sandy resident Hayden Duffin. When Alta Ski Resort closed due to COVID-19 in March, he started biking to maintain fitness. When looking for a more well-rounded exercise substitute, a friend suggested he try rollerblading.
“At first I wasn’t convinced it would be a viable exercise, but once I tried it I realized how good my calves and quads felt,” Duffin said. “It’s not the exact same muscle groups, but it is definitely hitting many of the areas I like to work out for ski season.”
For Duffin, skating has become much more than a way to stay in shape—it has become a lifestyle. He has found himself going on near nightly skates on the Porter Rockwell trail, located just a quarter mile from his house. Porter Rockwell trail is an 11-mile paved trail running north and south through Draper and Sandy. SkateNow.net provides a list of trails in the Salt Lake Valley and ranks them on difficulty for skaters.
“Something about blading on a freshly paved road brings back memories of those deep powder days in the Wasatch,” he said.
Rollerblading is not only a great form of exercise for Duffin, it is also a way to clear his mind and release the stress of a busy workday. Kraan, a lifelong skater, agrees that skating can be therapeutic.
“You never see anybody not smiling and having a good time on skates,” Kraan added.
Although most skates are currently out of stock due to manufacturing delays, skates are on the way. With a shipment arrival date set for this month, Kraan hopes to provide for this sudden increase in demand.
“Hopefully, in 2021 people are still interested and there will be plenty of skates available at that point,” Kraan said. “Hopefully, we can get everybody rolling.”