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Professional skater and TikTok star takes first 'twirl' on Uptown rink

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Victoria -

Professional figure skater Elladj Baldé laced up his skates Wednesday to give the new holiday rink at Saanich’s Uptown Centre a try.

Baldé was the first Black Canadian male figure skater to join the cast of Stars On Ice. Now, he travels the world to share his talent, athletic ability and passion for the sport of figure skating.

He says by showing his skills in public places, like the rink at Uptown, he hopes to inspire others to put on a pair of skates.

“It was hard for me to fit into a mold that didn’t feel like myself,” said Baldé. “Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of representation in the sport and so part of what I do is to be the representation for the next generation of Black, Indigenous and people of colour to see that they can be part of the sport.”

With more than 1.5 million followers on his TikTok and Instagram accounts, Baldé says he has a massive platform to share his message to encourage young people to try figure skating.

“I’ve always loved sharing my art and my passion with people when I performed for audiences,” said Baldé. “Now, it feels like I can do that on a whole other level because I’ve been given this platform to continue to share what I do and inspire others to pick up a pair of skates and believe they can be part of the sport.”

The rink at Uptown is just one of the holiday-themed activities the Saanich shopping centre has in store for its shoppers.

At almost 16 metres in height, a Christmas tree with thousands of lights towers over the square. Illuminated igloo-like domes line Uptown Boulevard offering a cozy place to warm up after shopping or skating on the more than 18-metre synthetic rink.

The cost to skate on the holiday-themed rink is $5 and Uptown is donating half of the admission fee to Victoria’s 1-Up Single Parent Resource Centre.

“We chose the single parent resource centre as our charity because we feel they do amazing work,” said Uptown General Manager Kristy Lowes. “They’re such an instrumental part to helping so many people by gathering donations and we wanted to do something nice for them to give back.”

The rink opens to skaters on Dec. 7 and will stay open until March 2022. For information on the rink visit the Uptown website.

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