Part 6: Eddy Matzger Interview ...
In Which the Skate Legend Talks About ...
Robert: What kind of skates are you using now?
Eddy: I wear skates that are made by my buddy, Mike Miller, who is living in South Korea right now. He's not only great at making composites [which are used for the bases of racing boots] but he is also a great seamstress. He makes skates that feel so good you can wear them all the time. They're like running shoes. My feet aren't even sore after a race.
I like boots with only three millimeters of foam in between the leather and the carbon. Most people like five millimeters of foam, which makes the boot a little cushier. But I like to feel the road a bit, especially when I am using a carbon-fiber frame, which also dampens the road vibration, and 100 mm wheels, which dampen the road vibration even more.
But it's really not the skates that are important: it's the skater. If you want happy feet, even if you're skates aren't perfect, you can work on your technique. You can sit back in your skates and make sure you are pushing through your heel or, as I like to say, pushing through the bone.
If you push off your toe, it's like wearing flip-flops. You lift your heel inside your skate, and that causes friction.
Another thing that is going to give you unhappy feet is improper balance. If your center of mass is not directly over your skate, your ankles are going to pronate, and you will have too much weight on the inside of your foot, and that will cause friction and give you blisters.
Robert: What kind of frames are you using now?
Eddy: Normally, I skate on carbon-fiber frames, also make by Mike. But he hasn't gotten me my 4-by-100 frames [frames that fit a skate with four 100 mm wheels] yet, so I am using these K2 frames [with a 195 mm spacing].
Robert: What kind of wheels are you using?
Eddy: Right now I am on these awesome wheels made in South Korea: Star Grip. I skated in New York City [the 2004 New York 100 K] on carbon fiber wheels, also poured by this company. They have hubs made of carbon fiber, like disk wheels. It was my fourth or fifth race on these wheels, but they are still very bouncy.
I got my start on 100-mm wheels with Zenons, which were pioneered by a guy named Andy Lundstrom. He was one of the first guys to make monocoque skates, which is a one-piece skate in which the frame is bonded onto the shoe with carbon fiber.
When he came up with this idea of 100 mm wheels, people thought they were the weirdest things. Then he got me started on them, and I loved them right off the bat. I was on them for three or four years before the pros started using them. Now all the top skaters have 100 mm wheels. And the only ones who don't are sponsored by companies who are still trying to get rid of their 84 , 88 or 90 mm wheels.
But really, 100 mm is where it's at. And at the A2A, I hope to be skating with 110 mm wheels in the back two positions and 100s in the front. [He did!]
Robert: When you started racing, what size were your wheels?
Eddy: Seventy millimeters. [He laughs.]
Robert: What's your advice to skaters who are considering the jump to 100 mm wheels?
Eddy: Make the jump! ... I made the jump right off the bat from the plastic ski boot-type skates to minimalist low-cut leather racing skates. Sure, at first I was awful. But you learn quickly. Necessity is the mother of invention.
I'll tell you, you'll know 100s are for you when you are coasting down hill at 30 miles per hour with some bicyclists, and you find you can pull out on your 100s and go faster than the bicyclists. When you are on 80s or 84s and you pull out at that speed, it doesn't do you any good because you are just winding out. But with 100s, you still have another gear.
And this business about skating uphill being more difficult with 100s is also malarkey, because on skates, you can pick up your feet and determine your stroke frequency, so you can change gears at will no matter what size wheels you have.
It's not like you are locked into one gear. Yeah, it would be impractical to use your big chain ring all the time on your bicycle. But on skates, you can just pick up your feet and run whenever you want.
Robert: When you skated up Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa in 1998, you used off-road skates with inflatable tires. Do you still use them?
Eddy: I think I probably could have accomplished that skate more easily on the skates I'm wearing today [racing skates with four 100 mm wheels]. The off-road skates were more for show. Although they had inflatable tires, the technology was just not there.
Robert: If you used your racing skates, wouldn't you ruin the bearings going through all the mud and snow?
Eddy: No, my bearings [Twincam ILQ-9s] are so well sealed, that it wouldn't matter. Contamination has a hard time getting past the S-channel [a feature of the ILQ-9 bearings]. And the gel in the bearings is hydrophobic, so even if water gets in, it's not going to mess them up.
Robert: How long have you been sponsored by Twincam?
Eddy: For the last 10 years now. ... Twincam is the company that has believed in me throughout my career.
The owner got his start in bearings after his first business in party supplies was ruined when the roof of his warehouse caved in one winter. After that, he decided to get into something that was resistant to the elements. ... So for him, it's a big deal to be able to put a bearing out in the snow, have it go through the winter and still be able to use it in the spring. [Twincam is based in Minnesota.] What he's done, essentially, is make a bearing that is bulletproof.
He supplies bearings to makers of original equipment [such as K2]. But I'm trying to help him get an after-market business established. People should be buying his bearings and putting them in their skates. They really spare you so much grief.
Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson