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Figure skating Tik Tok star wows at Saanich’s Uptown during holiday kick-off

Known for his on-ice backflips, Elladj Balde advocates for change and diversity
Canadian figure skating star Elladj Balde was the first on the holiday skating rink at Uptown on Dec. 1. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Reynolds)

Professional figure skater and Tik Tok legend, Elladj Balde flashed the blades Wednesday to help kick off Uptown’s 2021 holiday experience and fundraiser.

On a 60-foot synthetic skating rink at the Saanich shopping centre, Balde performed impressive tricks and spent time with wonderstruck fans.

“Elladj is inspiring the next generation of youth in Victoria and around the world and while he was here he also gave some helpful skating tips – one little boy even had a moonwalk-off with him,” said Kara Chomistek, whose company PARK brought the skater to Saanich.

Balde has 1.1 million followers on Tik Tok and is the first Black male figure skater and non-Olympian to join the cast of Stars On Ice. He is a voice encouraging diversity in the figure skating world and recently launched Skate Global Foundation, a non-profit organization that he co-founded with his wife.

“I really enjoyed my visit to Victoria and congratulations to the entire team at Uptown for the launch of their outdoor skating rink as part of their Winter on the Boulevard project,” said Balde. “I hope the youth take the time to find joy and embrace outdoor sport, specifically skating this winter season. It brings so much joy for me to see youth from all diverse backgrounds partake in such an incredible sport.”

The all-ages rink at Uptown officially opens to the public by admission on Dec. 6 from 2 to 7 p.m. Fifty per cent of all proceeds from the skate sessions will be donated to 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre, as well as a fundraiser night for BC Disaster Relief.

Guests at Uptown will also be able to visit illuminated igloos, check out rink art by local artistic duo the WKNDRS, take photos next to a vintage truck display and other holiday activities.

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