For the 72nd daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Pascal Morasse-Raymond. Pascal is a 31-year-old Canadian inline skater and skatepark designer who normally lives in Shenzhen, China, but because of COVID-19 is stuck in Tokyo, Japan. He designs skateparks around the world for Hurricane, the company responsible for organizing FISE.

On the job building the FISE course.

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

Japan placed the country under a full state of emergency and non-essential businesses have been closed ever since. The Japanese people follow the suggestions given by their government, which is to wear a mask whenever you are in public and to avoid unnecessary traveling.

Were you skating during the COVID-19 lockdown?

I wasn’t. Sadly I was still in China when the lockdown hit. We didn’t know much about the virus at this point, I’m talking end of January, early February, so I avoided going out. They also had a system set up to track where we went in the city, to make sure if someone became infected, they’d know who he/she might have come in contact with.

When was the last time you skated and what made you stop?

The last time I skated was almost two months ago at a small skatepark in Tokyo. After that work caught up to me as we are currently building several skateparks in China. Being the person responsible for design and fabrication, I had a lot of work to do to make sure everything went well for the team back “home”. I just recently moved to the beach near Tokyo and there’s this really nice concrete bowl I’ve been dying to skate. Sadly it is closed right now, but hopefully it’ll open before the end of the month.

First time I don’t participate to the construction of a park I designed. A bit bit sad but the team made a great job.

Are you doing any cross training?

I do a lot of sit ups to try and fight this dad bod.

How did you end up in Japan?

The initial reason I came to japan was to build the BMX park for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics (now postponed to 2021). We actually put together about 1/5th of the park before they pulled the plug and asked us to take it apart. By the time we had done that, China’s borders were closed to all foreigners and I’ve been here ever since.

The Olympic gig was supposed to take around 3 weeks, and for this reason I actually brought my computer design setup (see photo below) with me so that I could keep working on upcoming projects as well as manage the construction of the Olympic park.

It turned out to be an amazing decision, because I’ve now been trapped in Japan for over 2 months. Without my computer I wouldn’t have been able to work at all. So to answer the question directly, I’m working full time designing skateparks.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life?

Well in a way it did and didn’t affect my everyday life. People that know me will tell you that when there’s a drawing that needs to be done, I’ll basically become a hermit, locking myself indoors until it is completed. The only difference is that I’m in an unknown world here in Japan, where I have to adapt to a different environment. Most businesses are not open so we have to go get our food in local stores. It’s not a problem at all obviously, but quite different than my routine in China.

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

Our company is kind enough to pay for most things while I’m in Japan (I came here for work after all), but because we do not know when China is going to reopen their borders, I may have to move back to Canada if the situation doesn’t change. That’s not really something I want to do, because I would have to self-quarantine for 2 weeks upon my arrival in Canada. I have the strange feeling that the borders are going to open back up in China the very moment I set foot in Canada. Also I carry 50kg (110 pounds) worth of computer equipment…

Roll in to 180 gap in Guangzhou, China.
How is your local skate community responding?

My local skate community in Shenzhen, China seems to be back to normal. Ironically, China is one of the safest place right now. People still wear masks, which to me seems like the good thing to do. I actually feel like social distancing is applied in countries where you can’t get people to wear masks. Take Japan for example, the number of cases is extremely low and yet there’s never been any social distancing, people just don’t touch random things, they wash their hands all the time (at the entrance of every building really) and they ALWAYS wear masks.

Do you have anything you’d like to add?

Hopefully I’ll get back on skates soon enough. If I end up back in Canada, I’ve had my eyes on the Vans bowl next to the Olympic stadium in Montreal!

Zero back royale 540 out in Guangzhou, China.


Header portrait by Vincent Biraud

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