Industry News

Rollerblade Drops Its Professional Aggressive Skate Team

Instead It Will Sponsor National and Regional Teams

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

photo of Rollerblade skater Richie Velasquez.With large aggressive skate events on the decline, Rollerblade is pulling the plug on its TRS skate team.

But the company insists it's not turning its back on aggressive skating.

Instead of a pro team, it will sponsor a 10-member national team and a 50-member regional team.

"By sponsoring 60 or more skaters, our goal is to build aggressive skate participation again," said Rollerblade USA marketing director Nick Skally.


The company has sponsored a professional aggressive team since the 1990s.

But in recent years, the number of aggressive skate events has declined. Most recently, ESPN dropped aggressive skating from the X Games, except as a demonstration event.

With few big events remaining, Rollerblade decided to return "to more of a grassroots marketing effort with regional impact," Skally said.

Members of the new teams will compete in regional events, such as the Bitter Cold Showdown in Minnesota.

Team members will not be salaried. Instead, the company will provide them with equipment, clothing, company discounts and, in some cases, travel money.

No More, No Less

"In reality, we are not spending any less money," Skally said. "We are just reallocating the funds."

The five to eight members of the professional team were paid part-time salaries.

Current TRS skater Richie Velasquez will lead the new national team. (He will remain on the Rollerblade payroll as a consultant.)

Rollerblade hopes to fill its national and regional teams with "key influencers," trend makers who will attract new skaters to the sport. (Know of any? ... Send Nick an email.)

(posted on Dec. 20, 2005)


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Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson

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