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Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson

Industry News:

New Group Proposed to Fill Void Left in Inline Industry

Zephyr's Founder Hopes Group Will Connect Skate Industry Left Adrift After Sinking of IISA

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

Skaters were set adrift by last year's disbanding of the International Inline Skating Association (IISA).

The trade organization was a leader in the inline world -- and its sudden exit felt to many skaters, especially instructors, like a body blow.

But slowly the void is beginning to fill.

The latest evidence of this came Saturday when Zephyr Adventure's Allan Wright announced the formation of a new group, tentatively titled: For Skating.

The group will have its first meeting on Sept. 16th in Duluth, Minn., where skaters will be massed for the next day's Northshore Inline Marathon.

Wright is inviting anyone involved in the inline skating industry in North America to attend. (Registration is required.)

Among those he expects: representatives of skate schools, clubs and businesses; event organizers; members of the skate media and National Skate Patrol; and inline retailers.

It is not clear what role skate makers, like Rollerblade, will have in the new group. They dominated and bank-rolled IISA, paying for the office space and salary of its one employee.

But it is likely that the new group will be an all-volunteer effort.

Wright, a former IISA board member, says it will be up to the group to determine what it becomes.

"I believe the result of this first meeting will be to simply create structures that allows us to communicate in the future," he said.

"For example, club presidents and event managers might create email lists similar to what instructors now have.

"We all might also agree to make the September meeting the first of many annual meetings. Another possible idea is to create a regular email newsletter of skating news with content supplied by industry participants.

"What happens beyond that is up to the members of the skating community. ... If event managers want to get together to do joint marketing or PR, they could do that. If skate club leaders decide to help clubs that are struggling, they could do that."

Wright said he did not expect the group to get involved in certifying inline instructors.

Before it disbanded, IISA handed off that role to USA Fit. But the running-based organization has yet to launch a certification program.

In the meantime, the United Skate Schools Group, based in Southern California, has started a certification program of its own.

(posted on July 18, 2005)


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