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Industry News - Oct. 2005 to Aug. 2006
Inline Planet news about skate makers and skate-related companies, organizations and trends, listed in reverse chonological order.

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Aug. 2, 2006
Send the Best Rakes It In
With help from the likes of Joey Cheek, the non-profit group raises $3800 for the U.S. World Team with a fund-raiser during Indoor Nationals.
Go to Planet story.

July 10, 2006
Gilliam Goes Gaga for Inline
Inline skating has a new friend: Marjie Gilliam, fitness columnist for the Dayton Daily News. Though new to the sport, Gilliam gushes about it in her latest column, which is being picked up by papers all over the USA. "Inline is one of the best ways to get into shape without feeling as if you are working out," she writes.
- Go to her story.

Eastern Europe on a Roll?
Inline skating is becoming popular in parts of the former Eastern Bloc. But impediments remain, such as poor roads and a dearth of leisure time. (Go to the Planet story. ... And let us know how you like the redesign.) (May 4, 2006)

San Francisco Gets Healthy Saturdays
Skaters, cyclists, runners and walkers will have another car-free day on Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park — at least temporarily. San Francisco supervisors voted yesterday to try Healthy Saturdays for six months: May 27 to Nov. 25. One of the chief architects of the measure was D. Miles Jr. of the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association. He says he hopes next to persuade the city to repave Kennedy Drive, which was damaged during construction of the De Young Museum. (Go to SFgate story.) (April 26, 2006)

Israelis Hold Downhill Championships
Israeli skaters held their first official Downhill Championships in the Pisgat Ze'ev section of Jerusalem last Friday. Aside from downhill racing, the event featured a speed slalom competition and an uphill race. The top climber, Boaz Arad, sent us a report complete with photos. (Go to Arad's report.) (April 19, 2006)

Austin Gets New Training Program
Austin skate instructor Richard Littrell isn't easily discouraged. Despite the failure of Austin Inline Fit, he is launching a new marathon training program in the city next month. (Go to Planet story.) (April 18, 2006)

Making It Happen in City by the Bay
D. Miles Jr. will launch his Healthy Saturdays initiative with a press conference Sunday (2 p.m.) in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The head of the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association is pushing City Hall to extend the Sunday closure of JFK Drive in the park. ... Sunday will be a busy day for Miles. At 9 a.m., he launches the Northern California outdoor racing season with the Greg Levien 50K in San Mateo. (Go to more info.) (April 7, 2006)

Reebok To Pump Up Skate Market
Shoe maker Reebok is planning a line of recreational and fitness skates, according to an industry source. The company has shown prototypes of the new skates to retailers. Making rec skates should not be a big stretch for Reebok: it already has a line of hockey skates. Its move into the inline market coincides with its acquisition by Adidas, which recently sold off skate maker Salomon. (Go to more Industry News.)

Rolling Out Asthma!
Don't let asthma keep you off your skates. In fact, if you've got the condition, inline skating may be just what the doctor ordered — at least according to today's health advisory from the CDC. The advisory urges asthma suffers to stay active and recommends inline skating as one of five "asthma friendly activities." (Go to health advisory.) (March 31, 2006)

The Texas Road Rash appears to be an event with a future. Organizers expect between 200-250 skaters for this year's event on Sunday. That would represent a healthy jump from last year's numbers. (Go to Planet story.) (March 22, 2006)

Helping Champions Live Their Dreams
Send the Best is launching a new fund-raiser to help ensure that the top U.S. speed skaters can attend this summer's World Championships in South Korea. The fund drive is called "Helping Champions Live Their Dreams." ... Can you? (Go to Planet story.) (March 20, 2006)

Terra-bite: Landroller Recalls 1400 Skates
In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Landroller is recalling Terra 9 skates made between July and December last year. A draft press release from the consumer commission says "a wheel could detach or the brake could fail, causing the skater to fall and suffer serious injury." No injuries have reported to date. "Consumers should stop using these skates immediately and contact Landroller to receive free replacement parts," according to the press release, which Landroller posted on its web site. (Go to press release.) (March 17, 2006)

Skater's Death Sparks Helmet Giveaway
In response to the skating death of a colleague, fire inspectors in St. Paul, Minn., are starting a free-helmet program. (Go to the
Planet story.) (March 17, 2006)

Aggressive Skaters Form New League
A new league is grinding to life with the goal of drawing more young people to aggressive skating. The Amateur Inline League plans four events this year, including a championship Nov. 4th. Events will be at Woodward West extreme sports camp in California. Organizers also plan a series of U.S. seminars. "We want to promote aggressive rollerblading in a positive manner," said skate pro Richie Velasquez. (Go to more info.) (March 16, 2006)

Kids Still Love to Skate
The idea has emerged lately that inline skating is primarily a sport for active middle aged types. But don't believe it. A study shows that most U.S. skaters are children between the age of 6 and 17. (Go to the Planet story.) (March 14, 2006)

Skatin' Place Is Back
D. Miles Jr.'s cable access show returns to San Francisco tonight after a four year absence. Skatin' Place will air at 9 p.m. on cable station 29 and will return on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month. No word yet on the subject of tonight's show. The old Skatin' Place featured everything from skate dancing to inline racing. Miles, the head of the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association, plans to post aired segments on the Skatin' Place web site. (Watch the old intro.) (March 14, 2006)

Disney Joins Marathon Marketing Alliance
The Disney World Inline Marathon is the newest member of the Skate a Marathon campaign. The St. Paul and Northshore marathons started the campaign last year to draw new skaters to events. With Disney, the campaign now includes the three largest skate marathons in the United States. The campaign sponsors the Skate a Marathon web site and today posted an 8-page webzine, which includes training tips by Eddy Matzger. (Go to webzine.) (March 6, 2006)

California Rink to Close Doors - Unless a solution can be found, the Davis Indoor Sports Center will close its doors for good on March 31st. The privately owned rink has proved popular with hockey players and inline skaters. But despite efforts to diversify, the owners haven't been able to sell enough tickets to stay in business. The rink is large (about 33,000 square-feet) and sits along Interstate 80, about 30 miles west of Sacramento. (Go to Davis Enterprise story.)

Skate Alliance Looks for Structure - The recently formed North American Skating Alliance is trying to figure out how to structure itself to foster its goal of fortifying the inline industry. Meeting Saturday in Miami during the Great EsSkate, the group formed a committee to consider its structure and other issues, including whether it should adopt bylaws and how to choose leaders. The committee is expected to report back to the full group, through its newsletter, in a few months, said founder Allan Wright of Zephyr Adventures. (Go to more skate industry news.) (Feb. 13, 2006)

Minnesota Skate Oval Needs Donors - Minnesota skate promoter Mike Cofrin describes the John Rose Oval as the "point where inline and ice converge." But the oval has proved a financial drain on the city of Roseville. And now it needs help. (Go to the Planet story.) (Feb. 10, 2006)

Skate Sales Fall ... But Not So Much - The skate industry got good news and bad news in the latest SGMA report. The bad news is that skate sales continued to fall in 2005. The good news is that the massive bloodletting appears to be over. The report says the key for the industry is new skaters. (Go to the Planet story.) (Feb. 2, 2006)

Leaping Lizards? ... Iguana Cozies Up With Volleyball - Iguana Think Tank, the organizer of the World Inline Cup, has merged with Global Sports Marketing, the organizer of European beach volleyball tournaments. What does this mean? That's hard to say—and impossible to discern from the hieroglyphs of the joint press release. Probably it's a sign that Iguana mastermind Coni Altherr is looking for ways to a.) Keep the World Cup from stalling; and b.) Employ his genius for event promotion in other areas. (Go to the Iguana press release.) (Jan. 31, 2006)

Note to Organizers: Skaters Don't Just Want Marathons - Marathons draw the biggest crowds. But they're not the only kind of event that skaters want more of. In a Planet poll, 28 percent of participants chose marathon as their favorite kind of event. But an equal percent chose "other" as the kind of event they would like to see more of. By other, they meant half marathons (for rec skaters), long point-to-point races (like a2a), time trials ("no wheel sucking"), and shorter distance races, such as 10 Ks, for non-endurance athletes. (Go to the Planet Poll.) (Jan. 24, 2006)

Freestyle Skating Keeps Growing - Freestyle skating appears to be growing in popularity worldwide. The International Freestyle Skaters Association has scheduled seven major competitions this year—up from five last year. At the competitions, skaters will compete in four events: speed slalom (cone skating), freestyle slalom, free jump and high jump. Events are scheduled for Russia, France, England, China, Singapore and Spain. (Go to the freestyle association's web page.) (Jan. 19, 2006)

Should More Domes Get Rolling? - Once again this winter, inline skaters are flocking to the Metrodome in Minneapolis for fun and fitness. Since Christmas, the stadium's Rollerblade Rollerdome has averaged more than 500 skaters per date, says Mike Cofrin of Podium Sports Marketing. Casual skaters circle the lower concourse; fitness and speed skaters, the upper concourse. ... What explains the success? We asked Mike. Here's what he told us. (Jan. 16, 2006)

USOC May Find Way to Help Roller Sports - The U.S. Olympic Committee may reconsider its decision to cut funding for inline skating after the Winter Olympics. But it will depend on whether the governing bodies for inline skating and ice speed skating can agree on a joint plan to develop athletes for the Olympics. (Go to the Planet story.) (Jan. 12, 2006)

USOC Bites the Hand That Feeds It! - Apparently, it's true: No good deed shall go unpunished. Just as inline skaters prepare to make their greatest contribution to the Olympic Games, the U.S. Olympic Committee cuts their funding. ... How's that for gratitude! (Go to the Planet story.) (Jan. 11, 2006)

Fila Skates Arrive in U.S. Market - The competition heats up again in the U.S. skate market with the introduction of Fila skates. And Fila won't just be selling skates in the United States. It will be putting them on the feet of its new Fila USA racing team. (Go to the Planet story.) (Jan. 9, 2006)

NBC Affiliate to Hire Inline Skaters to Plug Olympics - The NBC affiliate in San Francisco is hiring a team of inline skaters to promote its Olympic coverage. The 10 skaters will be outfitted as speed, figure and hockey skaters and will appear (on inline skates) at various Bay Area locations on 12 days, starting Jan. 28th. Team members stand to earn as much as $960. D. Miles Jr. of the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association is putting the team together. (Go to the CORA web site.) (Jan. 6, 2006)

Latinos Are More Likely to be Skaters - Here's some good news for skate makers: According to a new report, the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States also happens to be the one that likes skating the most: Latinos. (Go to the Planet story.) (Jan. 4, 2006)

Logo Contest Rolls In New Year for Send the Best Project - Have you got an eye for design and a love for skating? If so, enter the Send the Best to Worlds logo contest. The nonprofit group is looking for a design that "expresses our love and support for inline speed skating." The winner will get a one-week pass to the 2006 Indoor National Speedskating Championships in Lincoln, Neb. (Go to Send the Best announcement.) (Jan. 2, 2006)

Rollerblade Drops Pro Aggressive Team; Adds National, Regional Teams - Rollerblade says it's not turning its back on aggressive skating — just changing its strategy. With few big aggressive events left these days, it is replacing its salaried TRS team with a 10-member national and 50-member regional team. (Go to Planet story.) (Dec. 20, 2005

The Planet 2006 Event Calendar ... It's Going to be a Very Good Year! - We may have lost a few events this year. But not to worry. 2006 is shaping up to be a great year for skaters. ... How do we know? We just put together the 2006 Planet Event Calendar. And it's loaded with stuff: inline marathons and races, skate weekends and tours, training events and seminars. And we're not done yet. We will continue to update the calendar as new events appear. (Go to the 2006 Event Calendar.) (Dec. 17, 2005)

Long Beach Drops Its Inline Marathon - Inline skating is no longer a part of the Long Beach Marathon. After a bruised inline history, organizers have decided to drop skaters from the 2006 event. They cited safety and racecourse logistics as the reasons. (Go to the Planet story.) (Dec. 15, 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)

South Dakota Rink Survives by Diversifying - "Build it and they will come" — that was the plan when Rob and DeeAnn Brandner built their roller rink in Aberdeen, South Dakota. And the skaters did come. But like many rink owners, the Brandners found they had to do more than provide a smooth floor to keep the rink rolling. They started making pizzas and renting rooms for parties. These days, Rob likes to joke that they own a Chuck E. Cheese with skates. (Go to story from the Aberdeen News.) (Dec. 13, 2005)

Indian City Gets World Class Speed Skating Rink - Inline skating appears to be coming into its own in India. Amid sporadic reports of skate clubs forming comes news today that a new "speed roller skating rink" has been opened in Chennai, a city of 4 million on the Bay of Bengal. Few details are available about the new rink. According to news reports, the chief minister of the state of Tamil Nadu inaugurated the "world class" rink today. The rink was apparently a bargain. It reportedly cost only 1,200,000 rupees (about $26,000) to build. (Go to Web India news report.) (Dec. 6, 2005)

Google to Feature Skatetrix in Video Blog - The Skatetrix web site is likely to be swamped by users in the next few weeks. According to the site, Google plans to feature it on its popular video blog. Skatetrix is a Swiss-based web site that features video clips of artistic and speed skaters. Google plans to feature a clip of Swiss artistic champion Nathalie Biedermann performing at a Zurick train station. (Go here to download the clip. ... Note: Mac users may have to download an avi player, like VLC, to view the clip.) (Dec. 2, 2005)

USA Fit Hands Off Instructors to USSG - It may seem like much ado about alphabet soup. But in fact, it will be big news for inline instructors. For the last year, they've been adrift without strong leadership or support. Now they've got the United Skate Schools Group to hold on to. ... And the further good news is that USA Fit, which has a great plan for growing inline skating, isn't ready to give up on the sport. (Go to the Planet story.) (Nov. 28, 2005)

LandRoller Raises Funds to Keep Slant-Wheel Skate Rolling - The business of building a better mouse trap is tough. Not only do you have to design it, but you've got to persuade the public to buy it. That's the situation LandRoller finds itself in at the end of its first year in the public eye. But an infusion of cash should be able to keep the LandRoller rollin'. (Go to the Planet story.) (Nov. 23, 2005)

Canadian Ski Team Will Lace Up Rollerblades When the Snow Melts - To promote the cross-training benefits of inline skating, Rollerblade plans to supply high-end fitness skates to more than 40 members of Canada's National Alpine Ski Team. Team members will each get a pair of Lightning TF skates, which are equipped with four 100mm wheels or five 84mm wheels. ... Off-season training is important for the ski team. Team members spent three months this year in "intense dry-land training" before heading to Chile to hit the slopes, according to a team press release. "Inline skating is a great aerobic work out, which works the leg muscles for long periods of time with less than half the impact to joints than running," the press release says. (Go to sponsorship announcement.) (Nov. 18, 2005)

Growing Pains for the World Inline Cup ... A Second Team Drops Out - The World Inline Cup has been one of the bright spots in the inline fabric in recent years. The growth of the race series has cheered skaters and surprised sceptics. But ironically, the growth is proving a challenge for team sponsors, who are finding it tough to keep up with rising costs. (Go to the Planet story.) (Nov. 17, 2005)

Skaters United Shall Never be Defeated - The head of the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association says skate clubs and teams should form an umbrella group to spearhead efforts to rekindle inline skating in North America. (Go to the Planet story.) (Nov. 14, 2005)

K2's Skate Sales Continue to Fall, But Not Like Last Year - Sales of K2 inline skates dropped $9.4 million worldwide during the first nine months of 2005, according to a company report. While significant, the drop is less than half the size of last year's, suggesting the inline slump may be reaching bottom. (Go to the Planet story.) (Nov. 10, 2005)

Feeling Hungry? ... Subscribe to the Planet News Feed! - Tired of surfing for skate news? Subscribe to the Planet's RSS news feed. It's a cinch. And once you do, all the latest skate news will be delivered fresh to your computer screen as it's posted! (Here's how.) (Nov. 10, 2005)

Silver Strand Promoter Wonders Where All the Skaters Are? - Fewer skaters are signing up for this year's Silver Strand Half Marathon, which is Sunday in San Diego. That's bad news for the race promoter, but he promises to keep it going. (Go to the Planet story.) (Nov. 9, 2005)

Fate of 2006 Cactus Classic Hangs on $$$ - Organizers are hoping to resurrect the Cactus Classic inline marathon next year but have decided they need to raise $6000 before committing to the event. "It's not one of those things we've given up on ... that's for sure," said lead organizer Ed "Fast Eddie" Wachter. "But it costs money. ... If we can raise $6000 by January, that will be enough to get the ball rolling." The late-season event in Oro Valley, Ariz., was canceled this year after an unsuccessful search for new sponsors. (Go to story about this year's Cactus Classic.) (Nov. 7, 2005)

Free Lesson Program Expands in Hopes of Snagging New Skaters - The number of skate schools participating in the Free Skate Lesson Program is expected to nearly double in 2006. The program is one of the few organized efforts to encourage people to start skating. But it was hampered this year by its limited geographical range. (Go to the Planet story.) (Nov. 4, 2005)

Who Knew? ... Rollerwars Ends First Season With Death-Defying Performance - Ghost has won the first-ever Rollerwars World Championships in Birmingham, England. Not impressed? ... Consider this: Ghost won even though he's dead! That's right, dead! ... So how can a dead man breath life into a new arena sport? (Go to the Planet story!) (Nov. 3, 2005)

Rollerdome Opens Its 15th Season With Healthy Crowd - More than 200 skaters "rolled the Dome" Sunday as the Rollerblade Rollerdome opened its 15th season in Minneapolis. Rollerdome owner Mike Cofrin said he expects attendance to grow after he mails out 30,000 fliers next week. Rollerblade founder Scott Olson hired Cofrin to start the Rollerdome in 1990. Since then, more than half a million skaters have rolled through its doors. Rollerdome makes use of the concourses of the Metrodome stadium. The upper concourse is reserved for serious fitness and speed skaters. Rollerdome will be open 70 days this fall and winter. Adult admission is $6.50; skate rentals are available; and skate lessons are free! (Go to Rollerdome site.) (Nov. 1, 2005)

USA Fit Prepares to Launch Inline Training Program in Austin - USA Fit is moving ahead with plans for an inline training program in Austin, Texas. The program, Austin Inline Fit, will prepare skaters for the Texas Road Rash (March 26) and the Disney World Inline Marathon (April 2), said coordinator Richard Littrell. The program will start Jan. 7 and run for 12 weeks. ... USA Fit launched its first inline training program last spring in San Francisco but pulled the plug when only a handful of skaters signed up, in part due to a lack of advertising. (Go to story about USA Fit's plans for inline skating.) (Oct. 29, 2005)

Company Announces Walk-About Device for Inline Skates - MP8 is calling its new WalkeeZ an anti-skid device for inline skates. The WalkeeZ are flat, treaded pieces of plastic that strap over the wheels of any standard inline skate. With them in place, skates are essentially transformed into shoes, allowing skaters to "go up and down stairs, climb steep slopes, walk in shops and stores, and board city transportation," the company says. The company is looking for distributors for the new product. (Go to the WalkeeZ site.) (Oct. 28, 2005)

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Copyright 2005 by Robert Burnson


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