Updated Mar 29, 2021 - News

Why Des Moines could become a regional rollerskating mecca

Katie Baird rollerskates off Locust Street in downtown Des Moines.

Katie Baird rollerskates in downtown Des Moines. Photo: Caleb Smith

Rollerskating has experienced a resurgence thanks to the pandemic and a 90s renaissance, and Des Moines is in a unique position to take it to the next level with the upcoming Lauridsen Skatepark.

Why it matters: One-of-a-kind attractions will draw needed tourists and money once the pandemic recovery starts in earnest.

The big picture: Katie Baird, a career skater in Des Moines, said the park will be huge for people like her who travel 2+ hours to practice at skateparks.

  • Baird, aka Bambi Bloodlust, moved to Des Moines in 2019 — a week after skating the whole week of RAGBRAI with her boyfriend.
  • She said large concrete parks are atypical in the Midwest, so she expects it to draw in both professional and amateur skaters regionally.
  • "It's huge to have a facility like this in our backyard," Baird said. "It's like a training ground opening for us — it's so much opportunity."

Beyond pro skaters, there's an influx of new skaters that you've likely seen on the trails or around your neighborhood, according to Rollerskate Des Moines founder Charissa Thornton-Raysby.

  • The park could inspire the new batch of pandemic skaters to get immersed in the sport or inspire bystanders to lace up, she said.

Her tips for newbies:

  • Hit up Des Moines' extensive bike trail system.
  • Find smooth parking lots to practice in.
  • Don't be shy — join her club!

My thought bubble: Nothing was more fun than cracking glow sticks and rolling around Skate West.


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