Skater Profile - Erika

Erika Marion (@rollerwitch_of_wellingtonwest) is a prolific outdoor Ottawa roller skater. Now that the weather is warming up you’ll see her cruising around the streets in Hintonburg and Chinatown.

Errand-skating has become my ultimate life hack. It makes everything fun. Grocery trips, dog runs, farmer’s markets, thrift-shopping, I’ve even gone to doctor’s appointments. As long as you bring along just-in-case shoes, there’s not much you can’t do on quads.

I skate a lot with my kids (10 and 3), so I sometimes have the sneaky benefit of strollerskating, which is basically like rolling with a glorified grocery cart that also holds a kid. The real trick though, is respectfully finding stores that allow or ideally even appreciate having a skater inside. Half of them love it and the other half not so much.

Pro-tip: no in-store stunting.

How did you get started roller skating?

I have my absolutely amazing, magical daughter Indie to thank for that. She’s the coolest person I know, and one random day she became fixated with getting a pair of classic quads. I thought this was a great and very funky idea, so I went ahead and got us both a pair and we made a “Mom n Me” activity out of it. 3 years and countless toe-stop replacements later, it’s become a lifestyle, a passion and one of the great joys of my life.

You’ve gotten your whole family into skating - do you have favourite spots to skate together?

My 3 year old Sunny is up and wobbling on her first pair of rollerskates this year. She’s still sliding around like a newborn giraffe out there, so the skate-trainer is in the mail. My husband is a lifelong hockey player and he rolls with us on inlines sometimes. I love it when we all rollout together as a big family gang, dog and all.

Ok, I could ramble on for days about all my favourite Ottawa skating spots, but I’m gonna try to be reasonable:

  • Chinatown, because I grew up there and I just find it so nostalgic, colourful and vibrant. Also, Rideau Rollers is there.
  • Wellington West, because it’s our home and we are always coming across friends and neighbours there.
  • The Parkdale Night Market is such a vibe. I love taking the girls there, getting snacks, listening to music in the park and checking out all the beautiful handmade stuff.
  • Lansdowne! Because of the Farmer’s Market, 613Flea and then we’re always off to the skate park around back.
  • Elgin, because it has some deliciously smooth sidewalks and if you roll it Southbound there’s a slight decline that makes for an effortlessly smooth and fun ride.
  • And The Chief William Commanda Bridge! A little bumpy on the wood slats but, in my opinion, the most beautiful spot in town. Access point is in behind the Bayview LRT station and if you take the bridge right over to the Gatineau side and go west, you’ll find some of the most fun, twisty and scenic hill-bombing trails you can imagine. And there’s beaches!

I’ll leave it at that, but I really have like 100 more. Ottawa is just loaded with beauty skating spots if you go out looking.

You also do amazing paintings on skates - what’s your process like for painting? Do you have a favourite pair you’ve done?

Thank you! Yeah, the skate painting was bound to happen. I’ve been known to paint/customize pretty much anything and everything in my life and my skates were no exception. Introducing my passion for art with my rollerskate obsession was a very obvious direction for me. The aesthetic of quads themselves is really what drew me to them in the first place. They are so creatively tweakable….laces, wheels, stops, guards, plates, charms. The opportunities to tailor them for self expression are endless. I’m still in the early days of working out different methods and mediums, but so far enamel paint on vinyl boots is the most hardy and effective. I’ve been affixing patches to suede boots but I’m planning on working with leather paint in the future to see how that turns out. My favourite painted skates are my Mars Attacks Moxis. I just love a good alien.

What’s your skate setup like?

I have a few that are for different purposes, but my Old Faithfuls are Clementine Moxi Lollys. They used to be orange but they are brown now. I’ve fixed them up with gnarly old witch faces on the ankles and broom stick patches on the heels. I am constantly switching accessories and redressing them like a busted old shaved Barbie…but right now I’m rocking Bont glow wheels, Derby laces, deadstoppers toestops, cib slideblocks, Riedell toeguards and I have new red SureGrip plates on order. They fit my weirdo-witch-clown “brand” pretty well I feel.

Do you have any skate goals for this summer?

I want to help Sunny get rolling a bit more confidently. And I want to make the time to get myself out to more community skating events. I would also love to hit the skatepark more and work on those skills. Most importantly I just want to spend as much time as possible on 8 wheels. It’s my happy place.

Do you have advice for skaters who want to get started skating outdoors on sidewalks and pavement?

Street skating can be challenging to start with all the changing terrain, bumps, cracks and debris. My best advice is to stagger your feet, using your front foot as the feeler, bearing most of the weight on your back foot. The obstacles that are so annoying at first eventually become part of the dance. Learn to tippy-toe walk on your toestops. This will get you over any trouble spots and other obstacles like cracks and holes. Rock a long-stem toe stop for this reason. Keeping a good sense of sidewalk etiquette is also key. We are always careful to make and give space for others. We have a cute way of communicating that when skating together. For instance, when we need to skate single file I say “make a snake”, and when we can skate side by side I say “bear cub”. We make it fun.

And just start skating. I’ve had so many people tell me they wish they could but don’t have the confidence, are scared or intimidated. But seriously just do it. It feels like you’re flying, it’s incredibly freeing. Don’t miss out, just pad up and DO IT. AND special message to new Moms: Get yourself a jogging stroller with handbrakes!