Skater Profile - Gloria Guns

Gloria Guns (@gunsglorious on instagram) is a musician, bureaucrat, and one of the best aggressive quad skaters currently active in Ottawa today.

Their lines combine intricate coping stalls and side-stance skating in the style of old-school vert skaters. Recently they placed third in the intermediate category of the 8Lives mini-ramp competition in Toronto. I asked Gloria over email about the comp, park skating in Ottawa, and their music.

Gloria (center) at the Sk8Fest HQ.

Alysha: Congrats on winning at 8Lives! How was the experience of competing in your first skate comp?

Gloria: It was so thrilling! I went in with the goal to just do my best and make friends. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to do well, so it was a shock to me to get third place. Especially since there were so many talented skaters there! But more importantly, I did do my best and made a bunch of new friends. Everyone was so cool and supportive. I can’t wait to try another skate competition sometime!

Alysha: How did you get started roller skating?

Gloria: I started roller skating by signing up for the introductory courses with both roller derby leagues in 2018. Roller derby always seemed so cool to me, so I was really excited to learn how to roller skate and make friends through roller derby. Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit, roller derby was put on pause for a while, so I started spending more time at the outdoor skateparks in Ottawa and just fell in love with aggressive skating.

Alysha: What’s your skate setup like?

It took a lot of fiddling around to figure it out! At the skatepark, I skate on Bont ParkStars, Brunny hardcore slide blocks, Huck grind trucks, and 8 Lives skate wheels.

Alysha: Your routines involve a lot of unconventional moves and side-stance. How did you develop your skating style?

Gloria: Aggressive skating is definitely a sport, but I like to think of it as an art as well, like dance, where you can express yourself and playfully interact with your physical environment. I spend a lot of time looking at a skatepark feature and trying to think about doing something on it that I haven’t seen or done before, like combination switch stalls on coping. Trying new things makes me feel like an artist as well as an athlete! It makes me look at the world around me differently: where some people might see a concrete structure as part of brutalist architecture, I try to approach it with wonder and curiosity and find ways to turn it into my own playground.

I’m also really inspired by the old school aggressive roller skaters from the 1980s like Duke Rennie and Fred Blood, who would shred bowls in sidestance back in the day. Sidestance comes easier to me because of the way my hips and ankles work, and possibly because of my Asian heritage of spending a lot of time squatting and sitting on the ground, so I’ve been finding having fun thinking about ways to approach tricks in sidestance. A few years ago, I participated (and won third place!) in an International Game of Rollers Skate game that featured only sidestance tricks and it really solidified my love of skating sideways.

Alysha: Your band, Scary Bear Soundtrack, has a few songs about roller skating. Your song “Come Skate With Me” was featured in the CBC documentary “I Am: Limitless” about the experiences of women at skate parks in Ottawa. What about roller skating makes it a good source of inspiration for song-writing?

Gloria: Well, it helps that I’m obsessed with roller skating, so obviously I was going to write a song about it eventually! I wrote “Skate with Me” to address the women and girls that I often see sitting on the sidelines of skateparks, watching their boyfriends skateboarding. That’s fine if that’s what they want to do, but I also want them to know that they can also take part and skate too!

Alysha: What’s your favourite place you’ve ever skated?

Gloria: Oh, there are a lot of skate spots that I love. My favourite local spot in Ottawa was the mini-ramp at Dovercourt Recreation Centre. It was a really beginner-friendly ramp and it was rarely busy, so I used to be able to spend a lot of time there practicing. But unfortunately this year it’s been taken down, and I really miss it. I do understand that it really needed repairs, but I hope Ottawa gets another similarly sized mini-ramp soon. It certainly would have made training for the 8 Lives Skate mini-ramp competition easier if I had access to a mini-ramp! Instead, I was driving out to the town of Russell on a weekly basis to train for it.

Alysha: What advice do you have for people who want to get started in aggressive quad skating?

Gloria: Aggressive quad skating such a great way to learn how to push through your fears to get out of your comfort zone, and also to learn how to be comfortable with falling! Personally, I think wearing protective equipment like helmets and knee pads are a great way to help you feel safe about learning. Also, remember to warm up beforehand and stretch after! It does make a big difference!