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Page 2 - Industry News
Inline Planet news about skate makers and skate-related companies, organizations and trends, listed in reverse chonological order.

Mich. Company Develops Inline Skate with Hand Brake - After taking a tumble on his inline skates, auto worker Robert Smyler decided they needed better brakes. He removed the hand brakes from his bike and modified them for his skates. Five years and $60,000 later, the result is the two-wheel EZ Terminator skate. The skate uses his now-patented brake. One hand controls the brake lever. Wires from the lever connect to brake mechanisms on both skates. Smyler's company, World Class Skate, sells the Terminator for $350. (Go to World Class Skate.) (Talk about it on the Forum's new brake discussion.) (Oct. 25, 2005)

Fila Reports Strong Skate Sales; Continues Search for U.S. Partner - Fila says its skate sales jumped 35 percent this year, boosting its inline revenues by 20 percent. "This is making us very happy," said Fila's Claudio Balconi. The company is so happy, in fact, that it would like to expand into the U.S. market. But so far, it hasn't been able to find a U.S. distributor. Hmmm. (Go to the Planet story.) (Oct. 24, 2005)

How to Grow Inline? ... Target 40-Year-Old Women, Take It Back to the Street - Attendees at last week's United Skate Schools Group conference in Long Beach, Calif., mulled ways to spark a resurgence of inline skating. One idea was to target 40-year-old women as a primary demographic. Another was to highlight the sport's fitness benefits. Skate education pioneer Dean Kaese said skaters should do the same thing they did 20 years ago when they first popularized the sport: "We skated at conferences and trade shows. We showed up on beach boardwalks with products people could try. Our passion for inline skating was obvious. We need to do the same thing again." (Go to ussg conference press release.) (Oct. 21, 2005)

European Union Approves Sale of Salomon to Amer - EU regulators have approved the sale of Salomon to the Finland-based Amer Group. Adidas is selling the French-based company for 485 million Euros ($582 million). Under its new owner, Salomon will continue to make inline skates, but, at least for now, will not sell them in the weak U.S. market. ... Amer owns a number of large sports brands, including Atomic skis and Wilson, which makes tennis and golf equipment. (Read more Industry News.) (Oct. 13, 2005)

Roller Officials to Attend Big Sports-Television Conference - One or more officials of the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS) plan to attend the Sportel conference later this month in Monaco. The four-day conference (Oct. 24-27) attracts hundreds of sports officials and television executives from around the world. Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, is an honorary Sportel committee member and is scheduled to attend. ... Roller sports has been trying to raise its visibility in the sports world. Last summer, it was rejected -- along with four other candidate sports -- for a place in the 2012 Summer Games. (Go to the Planet's Olympic Inclusion department.) (Oct. 11, 2005)

10,000 Attend Opening of Shanghai Skate Park - A crowd of 10,000 gathered in Shanghai, China, yesterday for the opening of what the city says is the world's largest skate park. On hand to entertain the crowd were 40 extreme sports stars, including aggressive skaters Eito and Takeshi Yasutoko from Japan. The skate park is a 12,000-square-meter complex of bowls, banks and rails. It cost $12.35 million to build. The company licensed to manage it plans to use it to host international extreme sports competitions. (Go to brief story from the Shanghai Daily.) (Oct. 7, 2005)

Modest Drop in Skate Sales Noted for 2004 - Sales of inline skates dropped modestly in 2004 but appeared to be leveling off after years of steep declines, according to SGMA International. Wholesale sales were about $100 million last year in the United States, the trade organization said. By comparison, the monster sporting goods industry grew slightly. (Go to the Planet story.) (Oct. 5, 2005)

Fila Says World Cup Didn't Provide Enough Visibility - Fila has released an official statement explaining its reasons for taking a "vacation" from the World Inline Cup. It says the World Cup's "structure and organization" didn't provide enough visibility, making it difficult to attract co-sponors. (Go to Fila's statement.) (Oct. 3, 2005)

Buenos Aires to Host First South American Inline Cup - The Inline Cup concept will get its first test on South American soil on Dec. 4 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The one-day event will feature separate 42K marathons for men and women. Prize money will be $15,000 (U.S.). The day will also include separate 8K races for pro and fitness skaters and a kid's race. ... The event is the only race so far on the schedule of the South American Inline Cup. The series is being organized under the umbrella of Iguana Think Tank's World Inline Cup. (Go to the announcement.) (Oct. 1, 2005)

Altis Adds the Planet to Its Short List of Skate Sites! - The university-based Altis web directory has added the Inline Planet to its list of Internet resources. The Inline Planet is the only general interest or news site among the directory's 10 roller skating resources. Altis is the work of a team of information specialists and subject experts at the University of Birmingham in England. Its aim is to "provide a trusted source of selected, high quality Internet information for students, lecturers, researchers and practitioners in the areas of hospitality, leisure, sport and tourism." ... Thanks, Altis. We're honored! (Go to the Altis roller skating resource page.) (Sept. 30, 2005)

Pa. Town Dumps Proposed Skating Ban - New Cumberland, Pa., has rejected the idea of banning skating from streets and parks. The borough proposed the ban as a way to prevent skaters -- mainly skate boarders -- from damaging property and causing disturbances in the downtown business district. But residents said the proposal (which would have banned skateboards, roller skates, inline skates and scooters) was overly broad and restrictive. ... Council members say tougher enforcement of existing laws should address the borough's problem. (Go to story about proposed ban at Penn Live.) (Sept. 29, 2005)

Roll Bounce Opens to Mixed Reviews - The skate industry, especially the roller rink crowd, has high hopes for the new movie Roll Bounce. It would like to see the movie roll in big audiences and give a nice bounce to ticket sales at roller rinks. But the critics don't seem too impressed. (Read the Planet story.) (Sept. 22, 2005)

USA Gets First New Skate Instructor of 2005 - Inline skating, like downhill skiing, is a demanding sport that requires skill and technique. So it was worrisome last year when the International Inline Skating Association disbanded, leaving the sport, at least in North America, with no agency to certify new instructors. But fortunately, the United Skate Schools Group soon arrived on the scene. Earlier this month, it certified its first instructor: Brad Buss of California. Congratulations go out to both Brad and the USSG! (Find out how you can become certified.) (Sept. 22, 2005)

PR Director Leaves USA Roller Sports - Kellie Habeeb has resigned as director of media and public relations at USA Roller Sports. After three years with the national governing body for roller and inline skating, Habeeb is taking a job with an Omaha public relations firm. USARS executive director Richard Hawkins says he plans to hire a webmaster to take over the job of updating the agency's web site. Jessica Rettig, the agency's coach and recreation coordinator, will edit the USARS magazine. (Read Kellie's farewell note.) (Sept. 15, 2005)

Fila To Abandon World Inline Cup in 2006 - Fila has decided to pull the plug on its World Inline Cup team, according to a report in the Duluth News Tribune. The company has decided that it can no longer afford the team's $200,000 annual budget. It informed team coach Danilo Sinigaglia of its decision on Monday. ... The Fila racing team won last year's World Cup. With one race left this year (next week's Berlin Marathon), the team is in second place behind Rollerblade. (Go to the News-Tribune story.) (Sept. 18, 2005)

Group Talks About Ways to Jumpstart Stalled Skate Industry - Skate industry officials and organizers took a few small steps today toward the creation of a new trade organization for inline skating. Meeting in Duluth, Minn., the group agreed to establish lines of communications with the help of a Yahoo discussion group and newsletter. (Read the Planet story!) (Sept. 16, 2005)

K2 Hopes to Spark a Fashion Revolution in Inline Skates - Tired of drab, colorless fitness skates? If so, you're not alone. According to K2, lot of women want skates with more "pop." That's why the company teamed up with designer Jette Joop to create what may be the first-ever line of inline fashion skates. (Read the Planet story!) (See photos of all the new skates!) (Sept. 13, 2005)

ESPN Signs on As Sponsor of Northshore Marathon - The Northshore Inline Marathon is in great shape once again this year. Not only is it the biggest and richest inline marathon in North America, but it has an impressive new sponsor: the cable sports giant ESPN. (Read the Planet story!) (Sept. 12, 2005)

New Inline Hockey League Rolls Modestly into Second Year - Is the United States ready for professional inline hockey again? Jeff Buma hopes so. He started the Inline Hockey Association last year in Orange County, Calif. This year's roster consists of six teams with a 15-game schedule. Attendance is running just under 1000 per night. "We feel like we're the George Halas of roller hockey because we're really trying to start it up again," Buma says. "We're going to try to take it as long as we can ... until we realize that either we have potential or maybe this isn't the best thing to do." (Here's the Orange County Register's story, reg. required.) (Sept. 9, 2005)

Rhode Island Health Expo to Include Skating Demo - Among the exhibits at next week's HealthFit Expo (Sept. 10-11) in Providence, R.I., will be one extolling the health benefits of inline skating. There will also be inline demonstrations and classes. The organizer, NBC 10, is looking for volunteers to help guide visitors and supervise exhibits. (Here's where you will find more information.) (Sept. 3, 2005)

K2 Says Its Inline Skate Sales Fell in 2004 - K2 reported today that its sales of inline skates fell last year, largely as a result of declining international sales. In its 2004 annual report to stockholders, the California-based company said skate sales outside the United States dropped by $14.7 million (U.S.). The report gave no figure for U.S. sales, which reportedly have been holding fairly steady. "The decline in inline skates sales is the result of sluggish worldwide retail sales for the industry, caused by soft consumer demand," the company said. ... In 2003, K2 reported a $6.3-million jump in skate sales, which it attributed to strong sales in Europe and Asia. (More skate industry news.) (Aug. 24, 2005)

Watch ESPN Sunday for Highlights of the St. Paul Marathon - Inline skating will grab a sliver of the media spotlight this weekend as the ESPN cable sports network broadcasts live from the finish line of the St. Paul Inline Marathon. We talked to ESPN producer Marc Weiner today about the coverage. He filled us in on what to expect. (Here's the Planet story!) (Aug. 18, 2005)

Miller Sports Plans New Boots, Frames for 2006 - Miller Sports is redesigning its speed boots for 2006 and also plans to update its line of frames, said co-owner Derek Highstreet. The California-based company used to be one of the most prominent makers of inline speed and fitness skates in the United States. But in recent years, it has focused its efforts in Europe and Asia. This year, it did not update its U.S. product line or web page, leading some skaters to wonder if the company was still in business. "We are certainly still here," Highstreet told the Planet. (More Industry News.) (Aug. 11, 2005)

Attendance Jumps for Big Apple Roll - The 3-year-old Big Apple Roll grew again this year. Some 300 people attended the first day of the weekend skate party in New York City, said Robert Kaskel of the Empire Skate Club. That's up from 220 last year and 150 the year before. "This year we actually did more than break even," Kaskel said. The surplus will be use for next year's event, he added. (More news about skate events.) (Aug. 5, 2005)

New Extreme Sports League Prepares for Launch This Fall - Extreme skaters will have their own national championships next year under a plan announced today by the newly formed National Extreme Sports League (NXL). The Georgia-based league is organizing competitions for aggressive inline skaters, skateboarders and BMX bikers. It plans a 10-week series of events this fall and next spring, leading to an NXL Nationals. The league says it was inspired in part by interest expressed by the International Olympic Committee, although it does not elaborate. It is financed by the Gray Capital Partners private equity firm. (Here's the NXL press release.) (Aug. 4, 2005)

Inline Hockey Growing Among Kids at 'Phenomenal' Rate - The inline hockey contingent at the Amateur Athletic Union's annual Junior Olympic Games keeps growing. When inline hockey was added to the event in 1996, only 20 teams competed. But this year, nearly 270 teams are skating in the Games, which end this week in New Orleans. "It's phenomenal," AAU inline hockey chairman Keith Noll told the Times-Picayune. "The growth has been unreal." ... However, that growth isn't reflected in the latest industry figures. According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, U.S. participation in inline hockey dropped by 53.9 percent during the last six years. (Here's the Times-Picayune story.) (Aug. 3, 2005)

Swiss Police Take to Inline Skates to Patrol City Streets - The Zurich police have replaced their mounted patrols with squads of officers on inline skates. The inline squad consists of 34 members: 25 men and nine women. It was started as a way to patrol the city's massive Monday Night Skate. But it "worked so well that we decided to employ the unit for other tasks, too," the police chief said. ... Besides, police are easier to keep in oats. "The police on skates carry out more or less the same tasks (as the mounted patrol) but are a lot cheaper to manage," one official said. (Here's Swiss Info's story.) (Aug. 1, 2005)

Roces Still Hasn't Delivered 2005 Skates to Retailers - Roces is typically the last skate company to get its skates to market each year. But this year the company is outdoing (or undoing?) itself. ... With just a few days to go before the start of August, retailers report that they still haven't received shipments from Roces. ... But the long wait may soon be over. Both Skates.com and the Inline Warehouse say they are in touch with the company and expect skates to arrive soon, most likely in August. Stan Chaves at the Inline Warehouse says he has already taken lots of advance orders from loyal Roces fans and skaters with big feet. (Roces is the only skate that comes in sizes up to U.S. 16.) (More Industry News!) (July 29, 2005)

Memory Card Group Signs on as Sponsor of Salomon World Cup Team - The MultiMediaCard Association (MMCA) has signed on as sponsor of Salomon's World Inline Cup team. The association sets standards for memory cards used in cell phones and other mobile devices. "There's a lot in common between our memory cards and Salomon's inline skating team, including speed, performance, dependability and that indefinable 'coolness' factor," said MMCA chair Yves Leonard. So far, there has been no word on whether Saab will continue to sponsor the team in 2006. (Go to Salomon press release.) (Dec. 15, 2005)

Fila Plans to Enter U.S. Skate Market! - With Salomon leaving the U.S. skate market, and Roces slow to arrive, it's about time the nation's skaters got a little good news. Well, here it is: Fila, one of the top skate makers in Europe, is talking about making its skates available in the United States. (Here's the Planet story!) (July 28, 2005)

K2 Reports Profitable Quarter, Despite Dip in Action Sports Sports conglomerate K2 says its sales grew 20 percent for the three-month period that ended June 30th. The California-based company reported net sales of $301.4 million for the quarter, compared to $250 million for the same time last year. Profits were up in all the company's divisions, except for action sports, which includes inline skates. Action sports sales fell $4.1 million to $65.1 million. The company blamed the drop on declining sales of paintball products, snowboards and bikes. (Here's K2's 2nd quarter press release.) (July 28, 2005)

Become an Advocate for Rail Trails in the United States! - One of the great resources for inline skaters in the United States is the ever-spreading network of rail trails. These paths and greenways follow abandoned railway right-of-ways and provide some of the best skating in the country. But they don't just happen on their own. They are work of dedicated people working together with progressive communities. If you would like to get involved in this great work -- or find out how to create a trail in your town -- consider attending the TrailLink 2005 International Trails and Greenways Conference in Minneapolis-St. Paul. It starts tomorrow, runs for four days and includes a skate tour of some nearby rail trails. (Here's where to sign up!) (July 26, 2005)

New Hampshire Town Mulls Skating Ban for Downtown - Apparently, some skateboarders in Somersworth, New Hampshire, have been acting badly (although it's not clear exactly what they've done wrong.) As a result, the town of 11,000 is considering a ban of skateboards, inline skates and scooters for downtown sidewalks. The proposed ordinance would give police the authority to levy fines of as much as $100 and to confiscate equipment. It would also prevent law-abiding, respectful skaters from using downtown sidewalks! ... This is another example of an overly broad anti-skating law! (Here's a story about the proposed ban.) (And here's Mayor McLin's email if you want to voice your opinion. Just remember the ban wasn't his idea!) (July 25, 2005)

Roller Skating Arrives in Calcutta - The West's image of Calcutta is of poverty, overcrowding and poor sanitation. But life is slowly changing in the city of 4.6 million, due in part to the trickle of techno-dollars that has begun to flow into India. ... Here's one sign of the change: Calcutta now has its own skate club, Fun-on-Wheels. The club was founded three years ago by software developer Akash Mondal after he returned from Australia, where, aside from working, he learned to skate. Today, the club boasts 250 regular members. (Here's a story about the club from the Calcutta Telegraph.) (July 23, 2005)

Organizer Talks About Plans for New Skating Group - Skaters were set adrift by last year's disbanding of the International Inline Skating Association (IISA). But slowly the winds of change are refilling their sails. The latest breeze blew in Saturday when Zephyr Adventure's Allan Wright announced the formation of a new group: For Skating. (Here's the Planet story!) (July 18, 2005)

Salomon to Abandon U.S. Inline Skate Market! - Citing declining sales, Salomon has decided to abandon the U.S. inline skate market. That means you won't find any 2006 model Salomon skates in stores in the United States next year, although you may still be able to buy them online. (Here's the Planet story!) (July 5, 2005)

LandRoller Founder Talks About the Long Push To Get New Skate Rolling - It's not easy creating and marketing a new kind of skate! The inventors of the new LandRoller skate, which has slanted wheels, tested 20 designs before settling on one they liked. Then they took their new skate to Rollerblade, which said, "Come back later." So they decided to make the skate on their own. ... It took seven years and lots of money, but finally this summer, Landrollers are expected to hit the market. (Here's a BusinessWeek interview with LandRoller founder Bert Lovitt.) (June 30, 2005)

New Inline Skating Magazine To Appear in Two Weeks - Logistical problems have delayed the planned launch of Race & Roll Skating Magazine by a few weeks. Publisher Dan Archambeau now expects to have the first issue in the mail during the week of July 11th. The delay is not expected to push back the timetable for future issues. The next issues of the bimonthly magazine are scheduled to appear in August and October. (Here's the Planet's story announcing the new magazine in March.) (June 29, 2005)

Registration is "Way Up!" For Long Beach Inline Marathon - Organizers say early registration is up by more than 100 percent for this year's Long Beach Inline Marathon. In fact, so many skaters are signing up for the beleaguered marathon that organizers hope to break the 1000 mark this year, something that only three U.S. inline marathons have managed. As a result, cash prizes will once again be awarded to the top skaters. (Here's the Planet story!) (June 28, 2005)

Rollerbade Is on Track For a 10 Percent Jump in Sales This Year - Despite problems in the skate industry, Rollerblade is having a great year. Its U.S. skate sales are up by 10 percent. And some of its models have proved so popular that the company has almost entirely sold out of them ... and it's only June, for Chrissakes! (Here's the Planet story!) (June 27, 2005)

House Committee Rejects Administration's Call for Cuts in Physical Education Grants - A House subcommittee is recommending continued financing for a federal program that helps schools buy athletic equipment. The Bush administration had proposed the eventual elimination of the Physical Education Program (PEP) grants. Cuts in the program would hurt Rollerblade's Skates in School program. (Here's the Planet story!) (June 23, 2005)

ESPN to Spotlight Neglected, as Well as Wacky, Sports on 50-State Tour - As previously announced, one of the stops on ESPN's "SportsCenter Across America" tour will be the St. Paul Inline Marathon on Aug. 21st. But inline skating won't be the only neglected sport basking in the ESPN spotlight. Among the multitudes will be windsurfing, skydiving, foosball, jousting and pie-eating. So what's it all about? (Read the Planet story!) (June 22, 2005)

Salomon to Streamline Product Line, Distribution Network - Salomon plans to streamline its inline product line and distribution network in the United States. "We are consolidating our U.S. strategy to be more in line with actual market conditions," said the company's Michael Chiasson. Nonetheless, the company is promising more "new and innovative products." (Here's the Planet story!) (June 14, 2005)

Late-Night Jam Skating Flourishes in North America - A late-night roller-culture is flourishing in North America at rinks that host weekly sessions for adult jam skaters. The sessions at rinks from Ontario to New Orleans feature hip-hop, R&B and rap music. The skaters -- all wearing traditional quad roller skates -- glide around the floor, either alone or in synchronized groups, performing spins, steps and kicks (every region has its own style). The Sunday night session at Skatetown USA in West Chester, Ohio, which runs until 3 a.m., draws an average of 100 to 200 skaters, according to the Cincinatti Enquirer. Sessions in other cities draw even larger crowds. (Here's the Enquirer's story about jam skating.) (June 11, 2005)

Mattel to Launch Line of Action Gear, Including Inline Skates, for Kids - Toy maker Mattel plans to introduce a line of action sports gear for kids at the big ispo trade show next month in Munich. The new gear will include inline skates, BMX bikes, scooters and skateboards, all designed for children between the ages of five and ten. It is not clear whether Mattel will market the gear under its name or its Hot Wheels brand. The company will exhibit the gear at the booth of its European licensing partner, Powerslide. ... Most of the world's top skate makers -- including Rollerblade, K2 and Fila -- will be unveiling new gear at the show, which runs July 3-5. The multi-sports show will include an inline summit and demonstrations of short-track inline speed skating and aggressive skating. (Here's ispo's inline page.) (June 9, 2005)

Two Largest U.S. Marathons Join Forces to Attract Non-skaters - The Northshore and St. Paul are the two biggest inline marathons in the United States. But they are not ready to rest on their laurels. Officials of the two marathons have joined forces to try to attract endurance athletes from other sports to their events. (Read the Planet story!) (June 8, 2005)

Weak Skate Sales Add to Loss for Canadian Sporting Goods Dealer - The largest sporting goods dealer in Canada reported a first-quarter loss today of $7.4 million. Forzani Group Ltd blamed the loss on "soft sales" of inline skates, skis, snowboards and hockey equipment. It said sales fell 4.3 percent for the quarter and profits from the sale of inline skates dropped $1.7 million at its Sport Check and Sport Mart stores. (Here's Forzani's report of its first-quarter results.) (June 8, 2005)

Camp Rollerblade Proves a Success in Weekend Market - Camp Rollerblade's first-ever weekend learn-to-skate program drew a capacity crowd Saturday and will be replicated in seven to nine more cities next year. "I had to turn people away," said Allan Wright, president of Zephyr Adventures, which manages the camps for Rollerblade. (Read the Planet story!) (June 6, 2005)

USA Fit Puts Off San Francisco Inline Training Program for One Year - Due to low turnout, USA Fit has pulled the plug on its first-ever inline marathon training program. In its rush to launch San Francisco Inline Fit, it apparently short-changed its membership drive. It plans to relaunch the program next year. (Here's the Planet story!) (June 3, 2005)

"Only the Strong Survive": Instructor Explains How She Established Thriving Skate School - "You can't just count on skating lessons to fall into your lap," says veteran inline instructor Amy Krut of the Mercury Skate School in Pittsburgh, Pa. "You have to market yourself." ... So how do you do that? In a post to the Yahoo inline instructor's group, Krut offers seven ideas, among them: offer free lessons to non-profit groups, organize a demo team to perform at events, and donate free-lesson certificates to charity events and auctions. If you are interesting in becoming an inline instructor (or building a business of any kind, for that matter), you will want to read Krut's post. ✈★❅❒❅✇▲ ▼❈❅❐❏▲▼✎✉ ✈✭❁❙✒✕✌✒✐✐✕✉

Inline Instructors Note Drop in Number of Students - Several inline skating instructors are reporting steep enrollment declines in classes and lessons this spring. "Biz is godawful," one instructor reports on the Yahoo inline instructors group. Another instructor says, "My camps are not filling up at all" and describes business as "insanely slow." However, other instructors are reporting full classes and business as usual. ... Overall, the reports seem to suggest that inline skating is attracting fewer new U.S. skaters this year. But that shouldn't come as a surprise: Participation in the sport has been dropping since the end of the Rollerblade fad in the mid-1990s, and little has been done to try to reverse the trend. (Here's the Yahoo instructors group.) (May 24, 2005)

Good News: Most Americans Realize They Are Fat Slobs in Need of Exercise! - So what are you waiting for, inline instructors of America? Your customer base is enormous -- and not just around the waistline. According to a new study, 57 percent of U.S. adults admit they are overweight and 60 percent would like to get more exercise. Their challenge is finding the time for everything in their busy schedules. ... Blue Cross-Blue Shield, which commissioned the survey, is promoting workplace walking, which means, basically, taking a stroll during your lunch break. But wouldn't inline skating be more fun? ... You betcha! ... Get your cards and fliers out there. America -- that land of spacious thighs -- needs you! (Here's the Blue Cross press release) (May 19, 2005)

LandRoller Wins Sports Product of the Year Award - Sports Edge magazine has named LandRoller skates the top new sports product of 2005. "Many believe that LandRollers will revitalize the skate category just as inline skates did 25 years ago," said Brian Conners, president and CEO of LandRoller. ... Apolo Ohno is reportedly on board. And so are a couple of speed skaters, who hope to break world records on LandRollers. But will the skating public bite? (Here's the Planet story!) (May 17, 2005)

SF Inline Fit Ready to Roll Next Weekend - Ultra-distance champ Kim Perkins has had her hands full lately with the launch of San Francisco Inline Fit. She's been placing ads, posting fliers and putting up a web site for members of USA Fit's first inline marathon training program. The group's first meeting will be at 8 a.m. Saturday at San Francisco's Crissy Field. The 12-week program will prepare skaters of all levels for the Aug. 7th Napa Valley Inline Marathon. (Here's the group's new web page, where you can sign up!) (Here's the Planet story about the new program.) (May 8, 2005)

Apple Debuts New Roller Skating iPod Ad - As further evidence of roller skating's return to popularity, Apple has come out with an ad that features jam skaters dancing to the iTunes on their oh-so-hip iPod digital music player. The ad debuted yesterday during Saturday Night Live. The roller skaters were dancing to the song "Feel Good Inc." by Gorillaz. (View the ad on the Apple web site.) (May 8, 2005)

Group Lobbies in D.C. to Oppose Cuts in Phys Ed Grants - Celebrity athletes joined sports industry officials in Washington, D.C., this week to oppose proposed Bush administration cuts in physical education programs. The celebrities included basketball legend Bill Russell, NFL Hall of Fame inductee Steve Young and Heisman Trophy Winner Herschel Walker. The group lobbied Congress to block President Bush's proposed cuts and eventual elimination of the Physical Education for Progress program. The program helps schools buy sports equipment for students. It is an important component of Rollerblade's Skates in Schools program. (Here's SGMA's story about the lobbying effort.) (May 7, 2005)

What Does Sale of Salomon Mean for the Skate Industry? - Salomon isn't the biggest fish in the inline sea. But in its eight years in the skate business, its swirl logo has rippled all over the industry. So what happens now that Salomon is being sold to the Finland-based sports conglomerate Amer? (Here's the Planet story!) (May 6, 2005)

Online Merchant NetSkate Boasts $700,000 in Sales - It was tough going back in 1996 when Shane Reece opened the Internet's first online skate shop, NetSkate. But since then, the Alabama-based business has prospered and now boasts annual revenues of $700,000. ... The skate industry slump has meant increased competition and lower profit margins, but NetSkate is still "hanging in there," Reece told the Huntsville Times. (Here's the Huntsville story.) (Read more Industry News.) (May 6, 2005)

Adidas to Unload Salomon After Another Bad Quarter - After an eigth-year marriage, megabrand Adidas is dumping its partner Salomon, the maker of inline skates and ski equipment. Adidas announced today that it planned to sell Salomon to the Finnish company Amer for 485 million euros ($628.4 million). Adidas bought Salomon in 1997 just as the smaller company was entering the skate market. Salomon has lost money during the last few quarters. Its earnings dropped 8 percent for the first three months of this year. Amer said it plans to blend Salomon's product line with its own. (May 2, 2005)

Fallout From Last Year May Be Cause for Smaller Numbers for Disney Marathon - The Disney folks are working hard this year to win back the trust of skaters, many of whom found the going dangerous at last year's Disney Inline Marathon. They've changed the racecourse and the start times to make the event safer. "Hopefully, the skaters will see that we have listened to their feedback ... and come back!" says Paul Ortolano. (Here's the Planet preview of the 2005 Disney Inline Marathon!) (April 28, 2005)

Oops ... Reverse Pornstar (an aggressive stunt) on DVD Turns Out to Be the Real Thing! - The now-defunct Rejects Skate Magazine claimed that it featured some of the "hardest aggressive skating anywhere." But the real hard-core stuff was on one of its accompanying DVDs: a video clip from a gay porno film. ... Like Skates Dot Com said in its sales blurb, "Rejects Magazine and DVD is a great buy ... the hottest in a long time!!!" (Here's the Planet story!) (April 27, 2005)

USA Fit Announces Its First Inline Marathon Training Program - In the next couple of weeks, ads will start appearing in the San Francisco Bay Area to drum up membership for San Francisco Inline Fit. The new outfit is the first inline marathon program created by USA Fit. Many more are planned. ... So is this the start of something big? (Here's the Planet story!) (April 26, 2005)

Group Admits Mistake, Returns Inline Skating to Top-30 List! - Inline skating is back on the list of the top sports activities in the USA. The Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association says an oversight resulted in the sport being dropped from the Top-30 list that it released earlier this week. On the updated list, inline skating is ranked 21st. (Here's the Planet story!) (April 13, 2005)

Earn College Credit Online by Having Eddy Prepare You for an Inline Marathon! - Lake Superior College has announced two new online courses for skaters who would like to earn college credit while preparing for inline marathons. To sweeten the pie, the college has signed up skate legend Eddy Matzger to teach the courses. One of the courses will prepare skaters for a full marathon; the other, a half marathon. Skating in a full- or half-marathon is a course requirement. The courses were set up with the Northshore Inline Marathon in mind. (Both the college and the marathon are in Duluth, Minn.) But students can opt to skate in events closer to home. Classes begin July 11th and end Sept. 23. No word yet on the pricing. (Here's where to sign up!) (April 13, 2005)

Inline Skating Falls From List of Top-30 Sports in USA - For the first time since the early 1990s, inline skating has failed to make the list of the 30 most popular sports activities in the United States. What displaced it: stationary cycling! ... Oh, yeah. Us Americans love our stationary bikes. They give us a chance to catch up on our back issues of People magazine! (Here's the Planet story!) (April 11, 2005)

New Company Prepares for Launch of Braking System for Racing Skates - Gatorback Skate is preparing to launch a braking system that the company says will make outdoor speed skating safer and more fun. The GatorStop system will have two parts: a heel brake that attaches to the frame of speed skates, and a leverage device that attaches to the boot. To use the brake, skaters will reach down and pull a leash connected to the leverage device. Company founder Mark Farnsworth says the GatorStop works better than previous brakes for inline speed skates. He will demonstrate the brake Sunday at the Great Orlando Inline Marathon in Florida. (Here's the Gatorback web site.) (April 8, 2005)

Bont Is Preparing Launch of First Heat-Moldable Shoes - You've heard of hungry hobos boiling their shoes to make soup. Well if the skate maker Bont has its way, everyone will soon be cooking their shoes, although baking, not boiling them. The Australian company announced that it is entering the footwear market with a line of heat-moldable street shoes. Just pop them in the oven for 20 minutes, put them on, and they will mold to the shape of your foot, the company says. Bont has been making heat-moldable racing skates for years. "Now you can have the same comfort in your shoes," says the company's Joyce Chan. ... The shoes are scheduled to hit the market next fall. (April 7, 2005)

New Group Says It Started Instructor Exam Program to Foster Education - The United Skate Schools Group (USSG) has issued a letter to inline instructors explaining how it came into being and why it started its instructors examination program. It said it decided to start the exam program because its advisors felt one was necessary if the group wanted to "truly support education." ... Some instructors have been baffled by the new group's entry into the field of instructor certification, pointing out that another organization, USA Fit, has already been assigned that role, even if it had yet to start its program. (Here's USSG's letter to instructors.) (April 6, 2005)

Rollerblading Crime Wave Spreads Across DVD World! - Last fall came the release of "Paranoia Agent," a Japanese anime film featuring a bat-wielding rollerblader in the midst of a one-kid crime wave. Now comes the DVD release of "Steal," a Miramax film that features a whole gang of rollerblading bad boys and a beautiful blond cop who suffers repeat clothing malfunctions. (Here's the Planet story!) (April 5, 2005)

New Hockey Stop Ice Wheels Hit the Market - Sky Skate Products has formally launched its new Hockey Stop Ice Wheels. The company says the wheels allow inline skaters to perform quick hockey stops on pavement and indoor surfaces. The wheels come in two sizes: 72 mm ($10 apiece) and 80 mm ($11). In a testimonial on the Ice Wheels web site, inline hockey player Rick Harmon says he stopped so fast using the Ice Wheels that he nearly suffered whiplash. Artistic skater Samantha Bennis also praises the new wheels. (Here's the Ice Wheels web site.) (March 30, 2005)

United Skate Schools Group Unveils Instructor Certification Program - The recently formed United Skate Schools Group has announced its own certification program for inline instructors. Instructors have been without a certification program since the International Inline Skating Association closed its doors in December. United Skate's director Janet Miller Sheehan said the program fills an "immediate need." ... Instructors may soon have a choice of certification programs: USA Fit is planning one of its own. (Here's the Planet story!) (March 29, 2005)

Supersonic Says Sales Jumped 200 percent Last Year - The wheel maker Supersonic says its sales jumped 200 percent in 2004, its second year of existence. The company sold most of its wheels in Germany, Switzerland and France, but also found markets in the United States, Columbia, Korea and Australia, said co-founder Juan Carlos Betancur. This year, the Italian company Belotti will distribute the company's wheels in Italy, France and Spain; Mogema will represent the company in Northern Europe. Betancur, Pascal Briand and Franck Cardin, three members of the Saab Salomon racing team, started Supersonic in December 2002. (March 29, 2005)

Skate Sales Fell 14 Percent Last Year But Now Appear to Be Rising - 2004 was not a good year for inline skate makers. According to recently released figures, skate sales dropped 14 percent for the fiscal year that ended last summer. The good news is that skate sales appear to be rebounding, based on anecdotal reports from retailers, said Keith D'Entremont, president of Roces USA. "Let’s hope," he said. ... The 2004 figures were derived from sales reports provided to the now-defunct International Inline Skating Association. D'Entremont was the association's chairman. (Here's the Planet's treasure trove of Industry News!) (March 26, 2005

Report From Korea: Despite Growing Pains, Inline Skating Continues to Flourish - The explosion of inline skating in South Korea has been one of the bright spots for the sport in the last few years. But recent reports have suggested that the boom might be over. ... We didn't know what to think, so we decided to check in with Korean skater and webmaster JinWoo Lee. He told us that while inline skating is experiencing some growing pains in Korea, it seems to be flourishing and even becoming more popular. (Here's the Planet report on skating in South Korea!) (March 24, 2005)

USA Fit Gets Its Instructor Search Engine Up and Running - USA Inline Fit, the new managing organization for inline skating, has posted its search engine for certified inline instructors. With it, users can search for instructors by city, state or country. The search engine includes 78 U.S. and four Canadian instructors. USA Fit is planning to unveil an updated design for its web site soon. All the site is lacking, said USA Fit's Leslie Barclay, is a few photos. "We had a great one that fit in with the site well, but the person wasn't wearing a helmet or any safety equipment -- not quite the right image to present!" (Here's the new instructor finder.) (March 23, 2005)

Maker of Surf Apparel Buys Rossignol for $318 Million - The U.S. sports apparel company Quiksilver bought Rossignol today for $318 million. Primarily known for ski equipment, Rossignol also makes mid-priced inline skates and other sports gear. The French company has struggled in recent years. It said it has been hurt by slumping ski and snowboard sales this winter, along with weakness in the inline skate market. Rossignol will be merged into Quiksilver. The new company will be called Quiksilver Rossignol. So far, there is no word on what will happen to Rossignol's product line. (Reuters' story about merger.) (March 22, 2005)

New Skating Magazine to Debut in June - Inline skaters have been without a magazine since FASST stopped publishing last year in the aftermath of a Florida hurricane. But come June, they will have a new magazine, says publisher Dan Archambeau. It will be called Race & Roll and will sponsor a new racing series. (Here's the Planet story!) (March 21, 2005)

For the First Time, Prize Money in World Cup Race to Hit $50,000 - The World Inline Cup Organization is telling teams that the Incheon, Korea, marathon this June will pay $50,000 (U.S.) in prize money, says Bont's Bill Begg. If so, it will be the biggest purse ever for a WIC event. ... So how does it compare to the prize money in other sports? Here's a sample: The Iditarod dog sled race handed out $72,000 in prize money in 2004; the Ironman Triathlon World Championship, $480,000; the Boston Marathon, $525,000; the International Cricket World Championship Trophy, $1.15 million; and the Wimbledon tennis tournament, $17.6 million. ... Oh well, at least we're moving in the right direction! (Here's Bill Begg's report on the Bont forum.) (March 17, 2005)

Summer Movie Will Showcase the Redemptive Power of Roller Dancing - The movie Roll Bounce is likely to give quad roller skating a boost this summer. The movie will feature a winsome roller dancer, a failing roller rink, a father and son reunion, and finally a roller dance face-off against crosstown rivals. Oh, yeah, and of course there will be a love story! (Here's the Roll Bounce trailer.) (March 15, 2005)

Size Limit Halted Bont's Plans for 105 mm Wheels - The skate maker Bont had hoped to liven things up this year by introducing 105 mm racing skates. But its plan got shot down by the new 100 mm size limit of the International Roller Sports Federation. Now Bont is playing catch up. It plans to go into production soon with its 100 mm wheels. (Here's the Planet story!) (March 14, 2005)

Can USA Fit Do for Inline What It Has Already Done for Running? - USA Fit is one of the outfits that has helped fuel the huge growth in traditional running marathons in the United States. It has done this by creating training programs that runners and walkers (roughly 100,000 of them so far) have used to prepare for marathons. ... Now, as part of its new role in the inline world, USA Fit hopes to replicate its success in the running world with a marathon training program for inline skating. ... That's a pretty big order. But USA Fit just may be up to the challenge! (Here's the Planet story!) (March 10, 2005)

ESPN Confirms That It Is Dumping Inline Skating - ESPN released a statement today confirming that it is dropping inline skate competition from the X Games. But it said six skaters would put on a demonstration of inline vert skating during its extreme sports extravaganza. (Here's last week's Planet story: Inline Skating Axed from the X Games.) (March 10, 2005)

U.S. Imports of Roller Skates Drop By 14 Percent - Skate makers were talking last year about sagging sales. And now the numbers are appearing to back them up: The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association is reporting a decline of 14.2 percent in U.S. imports of roller skates in 2004. ... That might not have meant much 15 years ago when lots of skates were made in the United States. But these days, few skates are (most are made in Asia, where labor is cheap). So a drop in imports is probably a pretty good indication of a drop in sales or, at the very least, an


- Racing