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Free Lesson Program to Try One-Day Format
Sponsors hope to attract more skaters, instructors
By Planet staff
posted Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2006

Free Skate Lesson Day

• May 12, 2007 (May 19 in some areas)

• Sponsors: Rollerblade USA and Zephyr Inline Skate Tours

Free Skate Lesson web page

The industry-building Free Skate Lesson program is getting a makeover for 2007.

Instead of a year-long program, it is being turned into a one day event: Free Skate Lesson Day, May 12 (with May 19 reserved as a backup day).

Students with schedule conflicts will be offered buy-one, get-one-free lessons.

Organizers hope the single-day format will make it easier to generate media attention for the program, which has met with limited success.

Last year, 350 students signed up for free lessons through the program, says Zephyr Adventures' Allan Wright, whose manages the program. This year, the number is likely to be between 280-300.

One of the main reasons for the low turnout is the small number of skate schools that participate in the program. This year, there are only 19.

All the schools are located in large urban areas. But there are no schools in many of the nation's large cities — including Baltimore, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Houston, New Orleans, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque — not to mention 36 of the 50 states.

As a result, most people who request a free lesson on the program's web site are unable to find instructors in their area.

"We definitely would like to get more instructors involved," said Nick Skally, marketing director for Rollerblade USA, which sponsors the program along with Zephyr.

Instructors stand to gain from the program in two ways.

For one, it can generate new business. Students who sign up for free lessons often sign up for additional paid lessons, Wright said.

For another, schools in the program will get free publicity. Rollerblade is hiring a public relations firm which will provide support to each participating schools, Skally said.

"This is a great way for to support the industry while at the same time getting some media exposure," Skally said.

Skally invites instructors who would like to join the program to send him an email.


Copyright 2006 Robert Burnson

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