Skater Profile - Dave Hardy

Dave Hardy is a long-time quad skater and instructor who is VP of Skates for Ottawa Quad Sessions (OQS). OQS hosts weekly roller discos at Carleton U, and they host special disco events at Lansdowne. We asked him about the history of skating in Ottawa and the state of the scene.

When did you get started skating? What was the scene like then?

It was 1978 and I was living in the east end of Ottawa at that time. There were some advertisements about roller skating at this new venue called SKADIUM that would open soon on Lancaster Road just off St. Laurent Blvd. I tried roller skating at the SKADIUM soon after they opened and loved it from the get-go, though admittedly, I was wobbly. Knowing how to ice skate did help.

As far as I knew there weren’t any other indoor roller skating rinks but apparently you could roller skate at Merivale Arena during the summer. Disco was the rage and the music had a good beat to move to. It wasn’t like the old days skating in the ice arenas with music fed through tinny speakers and all you did was skate counter-clockwise. Borrrrring!! Now we had flashing lights, a DJ playing current music with a thumping base emanating from large speakers in the centre of the rink and lots of people bouncing to the beat on a urethane-coated maple floor. Wow, now this was FUN!! Kids and adults alike joined in the fun and on the weekends it was so crowded you could barely find clear space to skate in.

I went so often that I quickly improved my skills to the point where I was asked to work there as a “cruiser”, which is a patrol on the rink to either enforce safe skating rules or to protect a fallen skater from other skaters. I was already working full-time elsewhere so I didn’t need the job but a chance to roller skate and get paid for it was ideal.

Do you have skaters who have influenced your style?

Actually, the initial employees of SKADIUM influenced me. The bouncing and grooving to the music really appealed to me as I liked to dance. Once a few people knew a certain dance step or move, it was really fun to be in a group going around the rink all doing the same motions – like synchronized skating.

Favourite music styles or tunes to skate to?

I still like the old disco songs as they have that constant beat but some of the new songs have a good beat which is good for bouncing along. Rock music is good for listening but not dancing or grooving on roller skates unless the DJ has a dance mix of that song.

What is OQS? How long have you been involved in OQS and in what capacity?

Ottawa Quad Session or OQS is a registered not-for profit organization for recreational skaters – inline or quad (8-wheelers) – and is volunteer run. They have weekly social roller skating sessions at the Norm Fenn gym at Carleton University on Friday nights with both admission and skate rentals available for anyone through Eventbrite. Throughout the year they have themed parties and some of them are held at Lansdowne Park.

OQS has been around for about 11 years. I have been skating with them for 10 years and a member of the executive for about 7 years as VP of Skates. I basically maintain our inventory of over 150 leather boot skates. Three years ago, I cleaned and lubricated almost all of the bearings which turned out to be a year-long process.

What do you think the Ottawa skate community needs to keep growing and thriving?

That is a good question. I think VISIBILITY. I am amazed sometimes at people’s reaction to my mention of roller skating. They’ll come back with “rollerblading or the old style?” and I have to inform them of the large community of quad skaters here in Ottawa - whether derby or otherwise. Events like GLOW in downtown Ottawa was quite popular and provided an opportunity to try roller skating. Also, a booth during the PRIDE parade helps get the word out that roller skating is a fun and healthy activity.

4Wheelies, the new indoor rink with a wooden floor in the west end of Ottawa is giving new hope for an explosion of interest in the sport. Rideau Rollers supports this new boom selling skates, wheels, bearings and accessories to new skaters and those rediscovering their passion for roller skating.

What is your skate setup like?

Initially, I had a pair of Dominion roller skates – inexpensive, introductory-level skates. Had them 1 year before purchasing my Riedell boots with Shearling-lined tongue and Century plates with jump bars in 1979. I’ve been using those skates up until February, 2024. You never go wrong with quality – and a rink employee discount!

My new skates, purchased from Rideau Rollers, are a Riedell 120 boot and Sure-Grip Avanti Magnesium plate. New bearings, 8 Lives ceramics, go into my 2 year old Poison Savant 84A hybrid wheels. Boots are almost broken-in now

Do you have any advice for new skaters who want to learn to groove like you?

First of all, take some lessons if you are not confident in your ability to simply roll. If you can roll, then feel the music! If you can’t do any funky moves to begin, just bounce up and down using your knees. Try a little move here and there and then add to it. Practice, practice, practice and skate often.

Any other thoughts or shout-outs?

The Ottawa Quad Session group especially Pacal Gin who worked so hard to get some social roller skating established in Ottawa. Of course, also the other executive members of OQS who are vital to the operation of OQS, providing a fun and safe skating environment.

To you Alysha, for having the courage to open a shop dedicated to the sport. It is not easy to operate successfully a store that caters to a unique clientele.