For the 28th daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Daniel Nodzak. Daniel is a 33-year old inline skater and co-founder of Blader Union living in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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What is the current situation with COVID-19 in North Carolina?  Are you in lockdown?

We’re under stay-at-home orders. I guess for all intents and purposes it’s the same thing. My city leads our state in confirmed COVID-19 cases but we’re the most populous city, so that’s to be expected despite all measures being taken by my state and local governments. It’s still pretty concerning though.

Are you still skating?

So far, no. I like to put my skates on and mime switchups on my carpet when I start going a little stir crazy but nothing beyond that. There’s just been too much on my mind throughout all of this. By the time I’ve got a chance to unwind I’ve just been mentally and physically drained.

I’m getting a little antsy though so I’d like to put a few miles under my skates this week, nothing terribly exciting, just wheelie-booting around the neighborhood. Hopefully it might help shake off this funk I’m in. 

When was the last time you skated and when and why did you decide to stop completely? 

I haven’t skated much at all since last autumn after I re-injured my left knee. I was actually just about ready to try testing the waters again when this COVID-19 mess started to get very serious in the US. I’ll get back into the aggressive stuff eventually but I’m having a hard time reconciling my desire to do that with my feelings that taking unnecessary physical risks is a bit selfish right now. 

The last thing I want to do under these circumstances is get hurt messing around on a ledge or practice rail, because I’m rusty, and wind up taking up space in an ER and needing the attention of overwhelmed medical staff.
I’m not going to pass judgement on anyone that’s still skating, but I do think we all have a responsibility to adjust what we usually consider “risky” skating. Just try to remember that If you got hurt at this time last year there was basically zero chance you were adding to an excessive strain on your local hospital by visiting the ER to get stitched up or have an x-ray taken. But things are completely different now, so if you’re going to skate make sure you’re skating smart.

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Are you doing any cross training? 

I haven’t done an x-grind since 2004. Ha, okay that joke would’ve been much funnier if you had written “x-training” but I went for it anyway and I regret nothing. Seriously though, I’ve been embracing my inner lazy P.O.S. for the last few weeks. It’s been hard for me to find motivation to do much with my free time because we’re constantly inundated with so much terrible news and uncertainty from all directions. It wears you out.

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time? 

Well, the other night I watched Rooney Mara eat a pie for five minutes straight while Casey Affleck looked on dressed as a bedsheet ghost. (A Ghost Story 2017) This pandemic has been taking me to some odd corners of Netflix and Hulu. Escapism has been the word of the month in my household. When the day’s done I’ve just been binging some movies and tv series I’ve had on my watchlist for ages. I know it’s not an interesting answer, but I think if you’re safe and healthy enough to come across as boring right now that’s something to be thankful for.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life? 

I do my work from home so I imagine that adjusting to stay-at-home orders has been easier for me than most. I’ve already got a nice home office setup and I’m used to being cooped up in the house most of the day. The big difference has been getting used to only leaving for necessities and going so long without seeing my family. It’s minor, but the strangest thing so far was not having any Easter plans this year. Even though, except for my father, my family is not particularly religious, it’s usually a day when we all get together to have a nice meal, play some board games, drink some beers, and spend time with each other.

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

Beyond my immediate concerns for the well being of myself, family, and friends I have been curious how the economic impact of this global pandemic will affect the renewed interest in rollerblading we’ve seen over the last decade. There’s obviously much more important issues to worry about but if this series is meant to capture how this affects rollerblading and the lives of its participants, I think between the economic slow-down and people being wary of social activities across the globe, we may see a loss of momentum at a crucial moment for the sport.

I actually saw Austin Paz of Jump Street Podcast mention this on facebook recently and I’d like to echo his sentiment now. The possibility of losing some beloved brands and businesses in this sport because of this pandemic is real. So pick up the phone or visit your favorite shop’s website and order that new setup you’ve been eying, buy a set of wheels, or a tee-shirt. Nothing is too small.

A lot of businesses in and outside of our industry are going to be hurting for a while. So if you can afford to spend a bit on luxury items like blading gear or VODs during this crisis you should make an effort to put that money toward things you believe in. Your current GoFundMe campaign to keep going for the next three years is a perfect example of that too.

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How is your local skate community responding?

I guess I’m not actually a part of my local skate community, haha. My work schedule is unusual so when I have the time to skate it’s usually several hours before sunrise. I’ve become used to solo sessions over the years, perhaps too used to them. Social isolation during this pandemic has given me plenty of time for introspection though and I think that when this has passed I should make an effort to be as much of a participant in my local scene as I am a part of the larger rollerblading community through my work at Blader Union.

Do you have anything you’d like to add?

Well if it’s okay I just want to plug my website and mention that we’ve got a free app available for iOS and Android.


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