As summer rolls in and the snow fades away, skiers are desperately looking for some way to keep their winter dreams alive. For professional skiers and snowboarders, the season doesn’t stop just because the snow fall has. No one understands this better than Aidan Sheahan, a professional freestyle skier who lives just outside of Denver, Colorado.
Growing up in a family that loved the sport, Sheahan first found himself on a pair of skis at the age of two. It wasn’t until he saw his first X Games at age 12, however, that he truly became enthralled with skiing. He began putting as much time and effort as he could into mastering the tricks he had seen on screen. “I was inspired by what they were doing and I wanted to do it too,” he said simply. “I started watching every movie and competition I could and would go out and try to replicate the moves, thinking that if I got good enough I could compete alongside my idols.” Hoping to further his abilities, he hired a coach, and at just 14 years old he began competing professionally.
After of few years of competitive racing, however, Sheahan found his true passion lay somewhere outside the racing world. What he really enjoyed was being free to experiment, trying to master new tricks, and take on new terrain, while also filming his experiences. Since then, Sheahan has retired from competitions and has been shredding the mountains of Aspen, creating epic video footage with Vital Films. Though this is not the path most professional skiers take, Sheahan now has the freedom to grow as a skier in other ways, apparent by the monstrous jumps and tricks he attempts in some of his videos.
But when the snow melts away, the cameras keep rolling and instead film Sheahan on his Rollerblade Troopers. “Rollerblading is the only thing, besides skateboarding, that comes close to the skills needed for skiing,” Sheahan said. “It’s all about strength and agility. The balance and the feel of the skates is so similar to skiing, but just scaled back a bit. Actually, because of the smaller surface area, training on rollerblades forces you to balance better, and makes you that much better on your skis.”
Sheahan alternates his inline skating workouts with trail running. “Running trails, especially downhill, is similar to skiing downhill. You have to have the same strength and endurance,” he said. “But if you want to get better at tricks, rollerblading is the way to go.”
Around the same time Sheahan became interested in competitive skiing, he learned that inline skating was a great off-season sport. “I played roller hockey, so I have skated for a while,” he said. “In my first off-season from skiing, I thought I would see if I could grind on my skates. I was just messing around, but I got a set of grind plates and tried it out and realized how much fun it was, and how similar it was to what I do on skis.”
Though Sheahan has always opted for skates, he was quick to suggest skateboarding as another alternative, especially for snowboarders. “It [inline skating] is just the closest thing you can do,” he said. “Your feet are separate, so you have two areas to focus on, but they are also locked in, just like skis. Boarding is more free, and it’s more similar to snowboarding because you are turned sideways. On skates you are forward or backward, going straight down.”
Picking up a pair of skates and fooling around is something Sheahan suggests for every skier who wants to keep themselves fit, but also work on their tricks and form. “They are great for just cruising and endurance, but if you mess around enough you also learn balance. And it’s fun to see what tricks you can pull off.”
For some inspiration, check out Sheahan and his friends at Vital Films test the half-pipes, tables, and other surface areas in some Colorado cities.
Images and video courtesy Aiden Sheahan, Matt Hobbs at Vital Films/Noah Franklin/Rollerblade USA.