It doesn’t take much for Abadi Al-Obaidi to stand out, as the freestyle ice skater practices flips, slides and stops at Montreal’s Parc Maisonneuve.
After performing a few moves for Global News, a small crowd gathered and some onlookers even started filming his moves. For some it may be overwhelming, but Al-Obaidi is used to it. The freestyle skater is part of Cirque du Soleil’s Axel ice show.
“We were kind of in the beginning of touring North America before the pandemic hit and we all sent home,” he said.
The 26-year-old most recently called Germany home, however, he was not able to return due to visa issues, so he stayed in Montreal. With his newfound free time, Al-Obadi creates videos of himself skating.
“The pandemic was a good chance to get the ideas, prepare for them and as soon as I had the ability to skate I was full out doing them.”
His freestyle moves like the Michael Jackson stop have gone viral on TikTok. Al-Obadi currently has hundreds of thousands of followers and over 10 million likes.
His skill level makes it hard to believe that the first pair of skates he laced up was just five years ago. The professional skater is originally from the United Arab Emirates, where he says there are just two ice rinks.
While attending university in Germany, he was inspired by videos similar to the ones he makes today.
“It was summer break I was looking for something to do. I found a video of ten top ice tricks. I saw people doing backflips and stuff like that and I was like ‘oh cool, I need to do that.'”
Al-Obadi has come full circle. Once influenced to strap on his skates by watching freestyle skating videos, he hopes his videos have the same effect on people watching them.
“I love the process, I love doing it, I love to see the process that people are doing and loving watching it getting inspired to go out and do something.”
When Al-Obaidi goes back to touring with Cirque du Soleil, he said he’ll carve time out to film videos and perhaps even teach others, to expose as many people as possible to the sport he loves.