Meet the PC Bladies, the women-only skate group with nationwide goals
What could be more campy, more freewheeling than an 80s/90s themed Sadie Hawkins prom on rollerblades? On Saturday, Matt Knoop Memorial Park was grounds to just such an event as the PC Bladies, an all-women roller blading group, kicked off its latest event exactly a year after its creation. And while the group’s foundations are built on campy fun, it is anything but a joke. The Bladies have aspirations of a nationwide presence, and, possibly, the infectious fun to make it happen.
On Saturday evening, Bladies started flooding into Matt Knoop Memorial Park, hopping out of their vehicles to the sounds of Journey and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
Ashley Mize and Lindsay Young were two of the first to arrive, and sat on the curb beside their car, pulling on their inline skates. Mize wore an acid-washed denim dress that fell in conical layers, held at the back with a giant bow, accented by a black fanny pack with white polka dots. Young wore a long black dress with a vertical strip of floral needlework that vaguely resembled a feudal tapestry, along with a lace underlayer and puffy shoulders. Like Mize, Young wore her hair in a ponytail, though the scrunchie supporting her hair was pink, not white.
“It could be an epic failure, or it could be amazing, or it could be somewhere in the middle of that, but yeah, we’re looking forward,” Young said of skating to prom.
Both were joining the PC Bladies for the first time, and neither had skated since their early teens.
But Young wasn’t particularly intimidated by the idea of skating, or blading, in the long dress she had bought that day.
“I am more nervous about blading, period,” she said.
She pulled up the side of the garment with one hand, revealing padded snowboarding shorts.
“If I go down, my hips are covered,” she said. “But the knees are probably going to look terrible after this.”
The women had not brought Bladiekillers – the name invented by a U.S. Ski alpine development team member for a Blady’s date – and had instead opted to come together as friends.
“I already feel like I’m going to fall and bust my butt,” Mize said. “But, you know what, I’m here for it.”
Across the parking lot, one of the group’s founders, Megan Harrod, emerged from her car, “Jock Jams” blaring.
Harrod said she and some friends came up with the idea over drinks at the Boneyard Saloon and Kitchen.
“We need to do something that unites girls in Park City, not like these exclusive book clubs some of our friends have,” she recalled saying with her friends.
Harrod works for and travels with the U.S. Ski Team, and after four years of residing in Park City, she had spent only 12 months in town.
“I felt super disconnected form the community here, so it was hard to make really deep roots,” she said. “I’m not used to that.”
She said the group of founders, which include Claire Brown and Kristina Taubera, drew inspiration from the Boulder Blade Brigade, a Colorado-based roller blading club. The Blade Brigade’s Instagram account claims the group is the state’s “Hottest, most dead-sexy blading group, obviously.”
“So we decided we wanted to make this PC Bladies group,” said Harrod.
She started an Instagram account and began hosting events based around the guiding principles of inclusiveness and fun.
“I would say, ‘No Bladies Left Behind’ is our motto, you know?” She said.
Because of Harrod’s and the Bladies’ other founders’ connections with the U.S. Ski Team, many of the members are athletes or former athletes on the U.S. national ski team.
During Harrod’s explanation of the group’s origins, Kaylin Richardson, who finished 17th in alpine skiing combined at both the Vancouver and Torino Winter Games, skated up.
“Oh, I love this,” she said, examining Harrod’s outfit, a short hot-pink dress, mirrored sunglasses with leopard-print frames, and a golden unicorn horn.
Behind her, TJ Lanning, a former national ski team racer clad in a pale yellow sleeveless tuxedo shirt, black bow tie and ‘70s shades, cruised around the parking lot in effortless circles like an upright shark.
“He’s one of the most naturally gifted U.S. Ski Team athletes there was,” Harrod said. “He fell a lot, though; hopefully he doesn’t fall today.”
But lately, the club has been pushing beyond its Ski Team borders, both around Park City and the world.
Harrod said she and Brown introduced the world to the Bladies when the two were ushered on stage during last season’s International Ski Federation’s alpine World Cup bib draw celebration in Sölden, Austria – the kickoff event for the World Cup circuit in February.
“We got up on stage and did the wave,” she said.
She also told the crowd that the two, who were dressed in U.S. Ski Team speed suits, were from the Bladies, who call Park City home.
“There were 6,000 people in the audience, so we really exposed an international audience to the PC Bladies,” she said.
The Bladies also have budding groups in Salt Lake City, Jackson, Wyoming, and Portland, Oregon, with more chapters pending in Minneapolis, and Denver.
And while the group is based around fun and games, Harrod, president of the Park City chapter, said the group’s leaders still have to be held accountable to their principles.
“We have a whole contract we have to sign,” she said. “It’s like, I’m going to commit to having weekly blade sessions; (plus) all of our values – being inclusive and fun – helping to cast a wider net with sponsors and get more people involved, and that they will go by our brand guidelines.”
As far as sponsors, Harrod is pursuing businesses that align with the Bladies’ attitudes and values, like White Claw Hard Seltzer and Pit Viper Sunglasses (known for its campy, aggressively fun style), among others. The group is already sponsored by Rollerblade, which gives out promotional codes and equips chapter leaders with complimentary blades.
“So, we are getting real I guess,” Harrod said. “It’s happening right before my eyes.”
Harrod estimated that roughly 50 women have skated with the Park City chapter, though Saturday’s event was likely to be its biggest turnout.
She looked out over the parking lot, which was starting to look like a block party.
“Hopefully we don’t get arrested,” she said.
As soon as she had finished her sentence, five Bladies coasted into the parking lot. They were followed by an SUV with Brennan Ruby, a recently retired U.S. Ski team alpine racer, riding on the hood in what appeared to be a child’s size T-Shirt that read “Too Much Talent,” and tight pants.
“Look at this group right now,” Harrod said. “It’s making me so happy.”
When a sizable crowd had amassed, Harrod and Katy Ryan, head of the Portland chapter and former alpine World Cup racer, called for attention.
“We’re pumped you’re here,” Ryan said. “This is rad!”
The two gave a rough outline of the night’s plan – to blade to the Boneyard, where the group would get drinks and announce the prom royalty, and then blade back to the park on the Millennium Trail.
Harrod told the group to make sure they had everything they might need.
“Bring your shoes; identification and money, and make sure you have a ride back if you need one, and condoms!” She said.
The group then pushed off toward Boneyard in a raucous, colorful mob. Along the way, some skaters formed lines, and skated in unison.
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