Fila Skates Roll Into U.S. Market
Virginia-based Company Will Sell and Distribute Skates; Companies Will Sponsor New Team
The number of major skate brands available online in the USA is back to three with the entry of Fila into the market.
Virginia-based Champion Skate Supply, Inc., announced today that it will carry and distribute the full line of Fila Skates in 2006.
Fila is a popular skate brand in Europe. But only a few of its specialized models have made their way to the United States.
Four Minus Two Equals Three?
U.S. skaters are likely to welcome the appearance of Fila skates. Their choices have narrowed lately as skate makers have left the sluggish market.
The high-end skate maker Roces virtually disappeared from the United States in 2005. And Salomon, a favorite with U.S. skaters, decided to abandon the market this year.
With Roces and Salomon absent, it looked like U.S. skaters would only have two major brands to choose from in 2006: Rollerblade and K2. But Fila makes three.
Where to Buy?
Champion will sell Fila skates on its web site and serve as their U.S. distributor, said co-owner Chal Love. The company is also hoping to provide the skates to other online merchants and retail stores.
So far, only a few of the 2005 (and older) Fila skate models appear on the Champion web site.
Love said more will be added in coming days and the 2006 models will be added in February when they become available.
Fila USA Team
As part of the distributor arrangement, Champion and Fila will be cosponsoring a new inline speed skating team: Fila USA.
This year's team will likely have three members, said Champion co-owner Bret Whitman.
Whitman, the winner of last year's Ottawa and St. Paul marathons, will be on the team. (Last year, he was a member of the Hyper-Salt Creek Racing team.)
He will be joined on the team by Pat Creveling and another, as of yet, undetermined skater.
The team will compete in inline marathons in North America and next year may extend its range.
"What we would like to do next year is add another skater and compete in the World Inline Cup in Europe," Whitman said.
"We don't want to just sell skates," Love said. "We want to do as much as we can to grow the sport."
Fila skates are made by MGM Spa, the Italian sporting goods company that makes Hypno skates.
Fila skates was the first major skate maker to come out with a 100mm marathon skate. It is also the maker of an innovative "active steering" skate (so far untested on U.S. pavement) that has a flexible frame.
(Posted on Jan. 9, 2006)
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Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson
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