CALGARY — A video of a Calgary man’s infectious energy and skating talent has gone viral, just days after he posted it.
Elladj Balde, a former competitive figure skater, posted the video online with the caption ‘When you FINALLY find some ice during lockdown’.
“It’s been hard to find time to escape, so the joy of finding ice outdoors and then being able to escape was really cool,” Balde said, “The actual backflip and meaning of it and the song and dance was really trying to show that skating can be cool. I want to make skating cool again.”
The attempt was successful and within hours, the video had racked up millions of views.
“On TikTok I think it’s about 13 or 14 million views in 48 to 72 hours, something like that. On Instagram, on my page it’s about two million views,” Balde said.
The video has also wowed celebrities, with actress Jada Pinkett Smith reposting the video, racking up another 5.2 million views.
Balde retired from competitive figure skating two years ago after a successful career skating for Team Canada and many international competitions.
“It’s extremely humbling,” Balde said about the viral video “To see skating being appreciated in a way that’s different than it used to be before reinforces my belief that I’m doing the right thing.”
Balde hopes that his video will inspire others to get into the sport.
“I’m connecting with people all over the world and they look at something like this and say ‘this is really cool’, and it might inspire some people to want to pick up skates and go skate. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Figure skating is in Balde’s blood as his mother was also a competitive figure skater in Russia, where he was born.
Balde said posting videos online allows him to express his artistry and creativity in a way that he couldn’t portray as a competitive skater.
“I’ve been wanting to explore different things and I’ve been wanting to go into the hip hop world, the funky groove urban style of movement that I wasn’t fully able to explore when I was a competitive figure skater.”
Balde plans to continue making videos in hopes of sharing his joy of skating and passion for performing.
“I found my artistry, I found my uniqueness, I found my story and I’m diving deeper into wanting to share that story and inspire others to do the same.”