For the 92nd daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Alexandre Chartier. Alexandre is a 41-year-old inline skater, founder of and project manager for a French IT company living in Bordeaux, France. With his work he supports sport federations in the implementation of their IT tools and provides them the means to manage licenses, competitions, etc.

What steps did France take to battle COVID-19 and how are things there now?

The Government of France announced a stay-at-home order on March 18th. All nonessential business, shop, bars and restaurants were closed. Most people were confined to their homes for two months, except for those who worked essential jobs related to food, logistics and healthcare. Home confinement ended on May 11th, but we still need to wear masks, especially when using public transportation and in some dedicated areas. The amount of available seating on tramways, trains and buses has been limited to control the number of passengers. Schools reopened with a limited amount of students, around six times less, to curtail the spread of the virus. Beaches partially reopened in a few areas, but you can not hang out on the sand, you must be walking or in motion across it.

Were you skating during the COVID-19 lockdown?

I chose not to skate during confinement, skating was not forbidden, but I did not want to risk getting hurt and having to go to the hospital during the pandemic. The hospital staff had more important things to do then take care of an injured skater. For me this was a question of respect. Since home confinement has ended, I am now back on my skates.

Where have you been going to skate now that confinement is over?

I had hoped to restart my long distance skates, however once confinement was over we had heavy rain for several days. Once I finally was able to skate again I began testing a new pair of skates. I have been slalom skating on these skates everyday, not far from home, on the shores of the Garonne River in downtown Bordeaux.

Are you doing any cross training?

When I was not skating I tried to keep in shape by running every 2-3 days, but skating is the only sport I really enjoy. I was a former long distance runner (800 m to half-marathon) when I was young, so I find running quite boring now. That’s why I try to practice several different disciplines of skating: speed, fitness, slalom, freeride, quad or inline, even artistic sometimes.

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time?

My website and skating are my passions. I am heavily focused on the history of roller (inline) skating. I have created a new YouTube Channel with some episodes about the history of skating. This is called : les “roulettes de l’histoire” (“the wheels of history”).

YouTube player
How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life?

COVID-19 has affected several aspects of my life. Having been confined to home and working remotely, I no longer had to spend 1.5 hours a day commuting, allowing me more time to focus on my family and my passions. Before the pandemic I would often shop in malls, but now I shop at smaller stores in my area and am buying local food. It was hard to stop going to restaurants, good food and good wine is a way of life here in Bordeaux. The hardest thing for me though was choosing to stop skating.

What are your major concerns right now and looking into the future?

I do not think that the pandemic is over. People are not reasonable, they leave their homes without masks and don’t protect themselves, acting like the danger has passed. The world is resilient, sometimes too resilient. If people have not had deaths in their families, COVID-19 is something abstract for them, something unreal. The virus has made many people realize that their whole life is not about work and productivity. They spent time with their families or saw nature reborn in places. With fewer cars, we could hear the field full of birds in town again. We were able to appreciate the calm. As everything slowed down, people realized that they were alive and that life had to be given meaning. They realized that certain despised trades were more essential than others, more visible but much less vital. The virus has changed priorities. It brought us back to our place as fragile humans on land that does not belong to us. We are only passing through. Unfortunately, the race for profit is starting again and we will go back to a crazy world… until the next pandemic.

How is your local skate community responding?

The first days after confinement ended I was still quite alone while out skating. But now as time passes, I have noticed more and more families or people on skates in the city, so that’s quite positive.

Do you have anything you’d like to add?

On a positive note, the inline skating market seems to be experiencing a revival and this is good news. I am thinking about all my skating and non-skating friends who have had to face COVID-19, I love you all and hope to see you again soon.


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