Big Wheel Blading’s COVID-19 Coverage

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every skater in the world in some way. In this series, Essential Workers, Inline Skaters on the Front Lines of COVID-19, we talk to inline skaters from around the world who are considered Essential Workers. This is the second part of our COVID-19 coverage, check out the series Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19, where we check in with various inline skaters from around the globe to see how the pandemic has affected their life. If you’d like to contribute an editorial piece or have any comments or suggestions you can email janericwelch@bigwheelblading.com.


Alex Olivas is a 36 year-old inline skater living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. Alex works as a Hvac and restaurant equipment repairman.

Do you consider your job essential?

Somewhat.

Do you feel secure at work or would you rather be at home self-isolating?

To be honest I’d rather stay at home

What are you concerns about working during this time?

Since restaurant equipment repair is the bulk of our work we are still out and about going from place to place. Most restaurants are still are open for walk-in and pickup, so the potential of coming into contact with affected customers or employees is fairly high. I do a lot of work for McDonald’s and their employees don’t have option to stay at home if they are sick!

How has the pandemic affected your everyday life?

I only worked 17 hours last week…

What are your concerns going into the future?

Working 12+ hours a day to catch up when things get back to normal.

Are you still skating during the pandemic?

Heck yes. Anything to move around.


Benjamin Zerfoss is a 32-year-old inline skater living in Weymouth, Massachusetts, USA. Benjamimn works as an excavator operator at a construction debris recycling facility.

Do you consider your job essential?

I consider my job important, not entirely essential. After working in this field for almost 3 years, it’s amazing to see the amount of material that comes through in a week. So it’s definitely important to keep it moving.

Do you feel secure at work or would you rather be at home self-isolating?

I feel fairly secure at work. I’m in a machine all by myself and don’t share machines with anyone. I constantly wash my hands when I’m in the break room and try to stay 6 feet away from other people. I’m concerned about potential exposure to the virus via another person or from contaminated material. I’d much rather be working from home at this time.

How has the pandemic affected your everyday life?

The pandemic has affected my everyday life in that after work when I spend time with my daughter, we just have to go home and hang out, rather than doing more exciting things. Also I’m 8 months sober and active in the local AA community. All the meetings I would normally attend are canceled, so that has really affected my daily routines.

What are your concerns going into the future?

I’m concerned at the rate things will take to go back to normal. It’s tough being a parent to a 6-year-old who’s had their normal life changed. She loves school and was looking forward to soccer, now that hockey has ended. I just want her to have a normal life!

Are you still skating during the pandemic?

I was skating towards the beginning of the pandemic, I skated in King of The North contest at the end of February, but then I bruised my heel skating on 3-8-2020 and have been resting it since.


Blake Hyatt is a 26-year-old inline skater living in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Blake works as a body technician for semi trucks and heavy diesel trucks.

Do you consider your job essential?

Sort of, I do repair work on the body of trucks. The trucks usually don’t need work done on the to run, but sometimes its one of the steps in a process to get a truck back on the road.

Do you feel secure at work or would you rather be at home self-isolating?

I feel somewhat secure, but we constantly have truck drivers coming in the building and parts arriving through the mail, so there is always that thought in the back of my head about the virus lurking.

What are your concerns about working during this time?

My main concern is that I get exposed to the virus.

How has the pandemic affected your everyday life?

Not too much has been affected at home yet.

What are your concerns going into the future?

Work stops, supplies run low, friends and family get sick

Are you still skating during the pandemic?

Skating tonight before “shelter at home” takes effect tomorrow morning


Jason Marshall is a 42-year-old inline skater and engineer living in Riverside, California, USA. Jason works as a Sr. Network Engineer at a large research university.

Do you consider your job essential?

Yes because our School of Medicine is working to crack COVID-19.

Do you feel secure at work or would you rather be at home self-isolating?

I am able to work remotely, but do not feel safe on campus provided the large number of international students who were traveling during the initial outbreak earlier in January.

What are your concerns about working during this time?

My children walking into my home office while on a Zoom video chat!

How has the pandemic affected your everyday life?

It has enriched my life. I no longer have a 1 hour total combined commute. This with breaks and lunches at home give me more time with my family. Work meetings have slowed down so I can concentrate on getting actual work done too. It’s been a win/win situation for me.

What are your concerns going into the future?

Viruses mutate. Will this be an annual issue moving forward if no medical fix is found?

Are you still skating during the pandemic?

No. I don’t want to risk an injury sending me to the hospital. I would rather not over run them because of my negligence.


Tony Gruber is a 30-year-old inline skater living in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, USA. Tony works for Neenah Paper, Inc.

Do you consider your job essential?

Yes and no, 80% of what we do is not essential. That being said we make a lot of specialty paper. Damn near 60% of colored construction paper you see comes out of our mill. We also do a lot of specialty government paper. The blue paper you see on the census letters was all made here. The other aspect is we have a dam on the Wisconsin river and with the spring thaw coming, it’s pretty important for flood control.

Do you feel secure at work or would you rather be at home self-isolating?

I feel much more secure at work than I do when I go out to get groceries! There are a lot of people close to retirement, that either fall into the high risk category or their spouses do, so they are constantly disinfecting everything.

What are your concerns about working during this time?

At the moment I actually don’t have many concerns. As it gets worse (and I’m sure it will) that might change.

How has the pandemic affected your everyday life?

The biggest impact so far is I’ve opted out of visiting my parents for a while. They live about 2 hours away, so its just far enough away to where I don’t want to be traveling. I make up for it by video chatting with them quite often. Normally I make it down to visit them about 3 weekends a month.

What are your concerns going into the future?

My biggest concern is that people aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously. So many of my friends and acquaintances think that Coronavirus is either a hoax or nothing more than a cold.

Are you still skating during the pandemic?

I plan on it! As of now though the weather isn’t quite agreeing to it here in north central Wisconsin.


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Jan Welch

Founder and creator of bigwheelblading.com

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