For the 16th daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Pierre Laurent. Pierre is a 29-year-old French-Italian inline speed skater and research engineer who has been living in Montréal, Québec since 2014. He was a member of the French National Team from 2004 to 2011. He was the 2008 European Youth Champion in the 200m, placed in the top 5 in several events at 2008 Junior Worlds (1000m, 200m, relay). Pierre has been coaching speed skating since 2012. First with Drac 2S in Grenoble, France and with VRL in Montréal, Quebec since 2019. He is the co-president (together with Julie Mercier) of VRL and he is the main organizer of the Canada Roller Marathon outside Montréal.

What are the current COVID-19 restrictions in Quebec?

New government restrictions are being announced everyday. For now, they have stopped all non-essential businesses from operating. People are being asked to stay at home, but are not confined to their home, as it is the case in many European countries. I am a research engineer that develops algorithms for a medical imaging company and am very lucky to be able to work from home.

Are you still skating?

No, I am not skating anymore.

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

Our last VRL training was on March 12th as a team and that was our last indoor session. Our club decided to follow the government’s advice and stop group training for our skaters’ safety.

Now that you can’t get together as a group, what is your club doing to train during the stay at home order?

We organize a Skype group to have off-skate training sessions at home. For now, we do three training sessions a week. Two of them are for physical preparation and for the third we mix up yoga, experience sharing with a champion, stretching and more. These sessions are free and open to anyone, so feel free to contact me to join!

It is nice to see so many participants connecting on Skype and enjoying these sessions. Skaters are not just joining from here in Québec, but from all around the world, making these trainings an international experience! This is a new format for us, but thanks to technology, we can invite speed skating champions to join us and share their experiences with the kids. Somehow even in the time of COVID-19, we have new opportunities to continue our training!

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time?

My job still occupies a good part of my day. However I am trying to take this situation as a new opportunity to do things that I neglected in my normal everyday life. I have been reading more, cooking, learning new things and have been more introspective.

Just to reassure my mother that I haven’t changed too much… I’m still not crazy about cleaning! I’ve also registered to volunteer during COVID-19 to help organizations with things like bringing lunches to people on the frontline.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life?

COVID-19 has affected my social life the most, such as partying, meeting up with friends and spending my weekends in nature. The plus side is that I have begun to develop healthier habits. When you replace binge drinking with cooking a veggie lasagna, your life perspective changes a bit. I’ve also been paying more attention to my family and calling my grandparents more often, which has been pretty cool.

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

I want the situation to get better as soon as possible. I hope we, as a global community, will use the data on what happened to improve our well-being and to question the human impact on the world. During this crisis I have seen many disasters, which are so sad, but we are also seeing improvements on mutual aid and local systems. I hope these efforts will be worthwhile and that we can take the positive out of it. As a skating co-president, I hope all my skaters are taking care of themselves, training hard at home (It’s not holiday time kiddos!) and that we can meet again soon for our outdoor season and the amazing upcoming events this year.

Do you have anything you’d like to add?

I hope we will come out of this crisis questioning our lifestyle and habits to prevent something like this happening again. I would like to thank and give all my respect to the people actively involved in solving this crisis, the people in the healthcare system (a big up to my skater friends Martial, Pierre-Yves and Nolwenn) and to the people that are doing their best to make the world shine tomorrow.


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