For the 44th daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Gabriel Hyden. Gabriel is a 30-year-old inline skater, film director, photographer and musician living in Vienna, Austria.

What is the current situation with COVID-19 in Austria? 

Three days ago the coronavirus lockdown in Austria was lifted. We are now able to leave our house, for any reason we want, and all the shops have been allowed to reopen. People must still wear masks when out shopping and while using public transportation. Groups of up to ten people can now gather, so yesterday I was able to enjoy some beers with my friends outdoors. It was surreal and wonderful!

Are you still skating? If so what precautions are you taking to stay safe?

We had really started this year off strong with 2-3 skate sessions a week before the lockdown. So it was hard being held back and not able to go skate with your friends anymore. In the first week of the lockdown I discovered downhill skating and thought it might be a great way to keep me in shape, without risking too much and yet still have fun. Straight away I was downhilling three times a week, hiking up the vineyards of Vienna and then bombing back down the hills. I was riding on a 3x120mm big wheel setup to be able to safely skate over the old concrete and asphalt.

After a couple of weeks of downhilling, I decided I would try to go street skate by myself a little bit. I brought by photo camera and shot some self portraits at spots that you cannot skate during normal times. I made sure to be careful and not get hurt, to avoid going to the hospital since getting injured right now should be avoided.

Where are you going out to skate?

There are a couple of new spots in Vienna, that we haven’t been able to skate yet, so I tried to hit those first. Three days ago the skateparks reopened, so we can now have some nice sessions at them before we hit the streets again. Being forced to skate street really reminded me how great it actually is and how much I really missed it.

If you haven’t stopped skating, what would make you stop?

I am not going to stop skating, only a major health issue could ever make me stop completely. Realizing that there is no real age limit to skate is promising. In the aggressive skate industry there are now skaters in their 50s still keeping at it.

Are you doing any cross training?

Not at all, I went jogging every once in a while, but other than that skating keeps me pretty fit.

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time?

I like to build stuff and just finished renovating our rehearsal space. A good walk out and about with a photo camera is a treat as well and of course traveling.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life?

I used to make quite a bit of spontaneous trips abroad and I’m beginning to miss those. Other than that, the restrictions were not much of a burden. I loved how time stopped and everything just slowed down for a while.

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

I am concerned that other major conflicts and issues around the world are not getting the attention they deserve and may not be resolved anymore. I’ve been thinking about the refugee crisis, climate change and the wars in Yemen and Syria, just to name a few. We should not forget that there are worse things happening than what we have to overcome here in the western world.

How is your local skate community responding?

No one had seen each other for five weeks, but social distancing paid off and we got our freedom back.

Do you have anything you’d like to add?

It’s Mothers Day, so I´d like to thank my mom.

The photos in this feature where shot by Gabriel Hyden during his COVID-19 “Self Portrait Sessions”.


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