Sweatstance / 3rd Lair Skatepark / Photo by John Haynes
Remember when we got followed by that Michael Bolton lookalike in Montreal? Relive that for us?
It was me, Mike Opalek, and this dude from the Northwest named Ryan on the Sunshine Tour in Montreal, 1997, I believe. After a long night of drinking (at my insistence — I was only 19) we decided to stop at a Dunkin’ Donuts. On our way out, Michael Bolton eyed us and started following us through downtown Montreal, hurling French comments at us. We got to our hotel and told the dude at the front desk (who barely spoke English) that Michael Bolton was not with us and was following us. Thinking that would be the end of it, we carelessly walked up the stairs to our second floor room and started walking down the hall. Suddenly the elevator bell went off and we looked behind us only to see that long-haired, French-speaking, unshaven, leather coat wearing dude coming at us. We all went into sprint mode. As we rounded a corner there was a three-step gap that Opalek and I ran down. Ryan decided to jump the gap. At the bottom of the stairs the ceiling went down about two feet. It clotheslined Ryan. Mike and I picked him up as Bolton gained ground. We sprinted around another corner to our room at the end of the hall. We fumbled for our key and got in just before Bolton could torture us with his music. He stayed outside our room for at least an hour, without knocking, then left. That’s one of my best memories of being a pro skater.
Favorite things about being a pro skater?
I liked the traveling and meeting people from all over. Going to Melbourne with Bryan Bell and staying with Dion Antony and Manuel Billiris (does anyone know who I’m talking about?) was an experience I’d never have had without being pro. I loved the tours the most. The Sunshine Tour and the Birth Tour I think were my favorites — new cities, new skaters, new girls… everyday. Not having a job was pretty cool, too.
What have you been up to since you left the rollerblading industry?
The all-American dream of sorts; you know, house, wife, kid, mortgage, life insurance. I graduated college with degrees in journalism and political science, and put them to use by being a bartender. I’ve been married for five years. My daughter, Amelie, is three, and pretty much the center of my life. Days I don’t work are spent with her at the park, or swimming, or going to dance lessons… you get the picture. I still skate as much as my body lets me. Usually that’s once a week, but I’ve been known to go twice. Staying in shape and healthy eating are huge parts to why I can still skate.