Name: Megan Petersen
Location: Portland, OR
Occupation: Producer at Nike, Founder of The Bladies Co.
Growing up with her brothers, Megan Petersen was always on some sort of wheels, from big wheel tricycles to rollerskates. When she was around seven years old, she got her first pair of rollerblades.
“I fell in love with rollerblading when I first saw it, but it wasn’t until I was 23 I was able to really get into it. I would rollerblade around as much as I could but my health was a battle,” she recalls.
“When I got to my teenage years, I started getting really sick way too often,” she says. “There were days it was really hard to walk, my knees would get so swollen that I had them drained and shot with Cortisone. Getting light-headed and falling down started to happen and I felt so sick and weak it was hard to get out of bed. I was really scared.”
At 17 she was diagnosed with Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis, which was believed to be caused by Lupus. She was prescribed a ton of medication, and learned how to wrestle with her autoimmune disease. It was around this same time that she was exposed to extreme rollerblading, which included grinds, jumps, and backsliding.
“I met a few kids who were doing tricks on rollerblades, which I’d never seen before,” Megan remembers.
In 2004, Megan attended a contest called Barn Burner in Renton, Washington. There she met tons of legends in the sport, including Erik Bailey, Brian Shima, Jon Julio, and Chris Haffey. At 19, Megan moved to California, which is where she began shooting photos of skaters. By 2012 Megan began to attack her blades and attempt tricks.
“I knew this girl Aarin Gates who was the absolute coolest girl I’d ever met. She had more style than any of the guys I’d seen skate. (Sorry, guys.) I started meeting more girls like Melissa, Coco, Fallon and Chyna. There was nothing I wanted more than to learn to skate with girls like these. I was so stoked!”
Megan’s friends and fellow aggressive inline females Fallon and Coco would chant “Bladies!” when they were skating, and the name stuck. From there, it took off, becoming a website, online shop, and brand for women in the sport.
“There’s potential for a solid industry of females in rollerblading and a community to build!” Megan gushes.
Between playing with her husky, working at Nike, and keeping up with Bladies, Megan finds herself squeezing in skating on her lunch break or after work. Beyond scheduling her skates, and battling the winter blues when the cold weather beats up on her arthritic joints, Megan finds herself still fighting the specter of sexism within a community as close-knit as rollerbladers.
“Even here it’s hard to say, but as a girl surrounded by guys you get heckled and hear a lot of sex jokes and deal with some comments from guys that aren’t great,” she says. “I think the biggest challenge is that there’s not a ton of girls to skate with in most places and we need a bigger community of bladies.”
Megan and her cohorts are working to launch a brand that motivates lady bladers while also creating an industry for them. “There’s a whole community of rad Bladies shredding!” Megan exudes. “Join the shred!”
For her work attracting attention to ladies who rollerblade, and for never giving up, we think Megan Petersen is a very Cool Girl!