Elladj Baldé has been skating competitively for most of his life — he learned to skate at just six-years-old — and has had social media for years, but it wasn’t until recently that he went viral, gaining international attention for his talent. While Baldé’s found acceptance online, it hasn’t been easy for him in real life, especially dealing with gender stereotypes that exist about figure skaters.
ELLADJ BALDE: I didn't have anyone, really, that I looked up to, that looked like me, that could give me an example of what it is to be a biracial skater in the figure skating world.
The thing that I really love about skating is that balance between athleticism and artistry. You need to be extremely athletic in order to do triples and quads and land on a blade that's half a quarter of an inch thin. In this COVID world, I had an opportunity to start to go skating outside. I was able to be on the ice and just create.
I think my intention is really to make people feel, to inspire the next generation of skaters of color, Black, Indigenous, to see themselves in me and think that they can be successful as well, and they can embrace that. We created the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion lines for the BIPOC community. There are barriers for skaters of color within the figure skating community.
What we want to do is, is clean up that path for skaters that are interested in the sport, that are from the BIPOC community, by helping them with funds and equipment and accessibility to ranks and support, mentally and emotionally.
That representation is extremely important, because it allows them to be inspired by someone that looks like them. And subconsciously, they get the message that they can be successful as well. My message is really to just embrace that thing that's unique about you and embrace your story and share that story. That's where magic happens. So let's do it.