ISPO Munich: What's new in the world of skating in 2013?
ISPO… What's that?
The ISPO Munich is kind of the Big Mass for outdoors sports manufacturers, an international show where you come and meet professionals, do business or simply make your products known by the general public.
In the middle of the Bavarian winter, almost 2.000 brands were displaying their latest innovations. None less than 80.000 visitors from hundreds of different countries walked the alleys of the series of halls for 4 days. You come to spot the new trends, spy on the competition and obviously, do business. Take your map, your compass, your food package and off we go for a little tour…
And what about skating?
If skating used to have a leading place a good dozen years ago, it has seriously stepped backwards since then. A bitter observation. You have to search to find the stands, even those of the 'big' traditional brands.
K2: Where are the skates?
Destination Hall A1 to find K2. Fail… We have to try the A3 and then the A5. One may say to themselves that the German brand would have made an effort to show its whole range as it is on its territory. Not at all. You have to enter a space packed with snow riders to realize that there is not a single pair of skates on the shelves. All around, only ski accessories. By blind chance, we come upon a few ice skates, hope arouses… but then nothing. We desperately try to find a person in charge of the skate marketing… as hard to find as the brand's products…
Rollerblade: a brand amongst others at the Nordica stand
It is useless to stay at K2's. We head to Rollerblade's, one of the oldest and most famous brands on the market. Nordica (which RB depends on) displays a huge space gathering all its brands. Receptionists filter the entrance leading to the big shots of the society. We ask if we can meet a few heads, most of them are busy, unknown or not there. In short, we should come back later…
Fair enough, let's find the RB 2013 products! Here again, we confusedly realize that the presentation space of the range is limited to a triangular column, each facet of which houses three pairs of skate.
Only a video livens up the whole thing. Even less populated than a desert. How did they come to that?
Powerslide: life at last!
When you remember the golden age of skating, blues is just around the corner. Out of desperation, we go to the Powerslide stand to boost us up. The German brand making only skates, we take the chance.
The PS stand is a bit more stocked and open to the public. The space is divided into several areas where each brand is presented separately: The Virus range at the center of the entrance, the new Ennui protective gear brand on a wall stand, the Nordic ranges in a kind of hut with the (ice) speed skates.
By the way, there are also a couple of surprises, like fitness models such as the Doops with ice blades! Most of the carbon boots that we find in rollerskating are available for ice too. In France, it would be impossible to use them, it is long speed skating blades which are forbidden in public ice rinks.
At last, an area with a spark of life! We come across vendors of Parisian shops, a kind and smiling Oli Benet (in charge of the promotion of the Doop at Powerslide's), the person in charge of the PS marketing… All is not lost, there are still some brands that believe in what they do!
Let's go towards Hall A3 which gathers a good bunch of skate brands, more modest manufacturers, but maybe also more passionate about what they do than some big brands previously mentioned.
Riedell: Come back later…
By chance, we walk past the Riedell stand, the derby models of the brand are displayed but nothing transcendent catches our eyes. The boss is busy and lets us know it, we do not insist. Not actually great for a fist contact.
Crazy: So roller derby
A few meters further, behind a huge indoor park invaded by scooters where big speakers blast non-stop music, you can find the Seba/X-Tech/Crazy stand. The three brands have got together to show a coherent and pleasant stand. They work closely in France and at the international scale.
Our first contact is made with the managers of the roller derby brand Crazy. Good vibes, they are kind and welcoming. The products are mid and high range with aluminum plates that inspire confidence.
X-Tech: hungry for speed
X-Tech has a smaller space where speed/fitness models are displayed. The brand from Hong Kong wants to break through the European market of speed skating, which is quite a challenging task given the strong competition on that niche. The boss of the brand and his acolytes are there, they take the time to welcome us in a side-room. They are very interested in the European market, now that they are well established in Asia where they make most of their turnover. No doubt that they will push to reach their goal. Amongst their employees in Asia, a certain Bill Begg…
Seba: feeling at home
Then we meet the familiar faces of the Seba team. Greg welcomes us with his usual smile, running from one meeting to another, just like Seba. Polina Semenova is here too.
The brand seriously gained in stature since its creation. The time when the Seba High was the only model is over. Today, Seba is there with several ranges on the markets of slalom, freeskate, fitness, occasional speed and aggressive skating… and maybe speed skating soon? The colorful shelves on the walls catch the eye with the custom kit ranges. The back of the stand hides and more 'secret' room in which Seba meets his partners and clients. There are several models which are not displayed to the public… and above all to the competition! The little French brand has innovated a lot these last years, and has been copied a lot too. It is no longer question to use the ISPO as a showcase for innovations… or just to show them to a certain circle of hand-picked people. We had the opportunity to discover some of those products. We promise to talk about them in the following weeks! By the way, one of them will be revealed at the Winterclash with CJ Welssmore.
There is also Jean-Yves Blondeau (Buggy Rollin), chilling out on Seba's inflatable sofa. He made the trip to Munich to find industrial partners to produce his wheely armor. There is no better place for sure.
Roces wants to get market shares on the freeskate niche
We head to the Roces Stand in order to meet its managers. Roces shows an uncluttered white wall display which efficiently highlights the collection. The person in charge of the marketing tells us about an upcoming freeskate model in a few months. It would still be at a prototype stage for the moment. We will not see any illustrations. Valo being part of Roces, we ask where we can find the products. They are not displayed. Too bad…
Fila: Nothing new in the horizon…
Fila is there through a shop that manages its stand. The French distributor, Templar, should come the next day, we will not meet him then. The whole range of skates is exhibited with the M110 as the figurehead. A kind Italian woman gives us some information on the 2013 collection, which does not change much compared to those of the previous years.
Maple/Raps: the skating machine
Destination: the Maple/Raps stand. We have already met the managers at the 24 hours of Le Mans. If the products have not changed much, a machine displayed at the front of the stand caught our attention. It is made for indoor skating training and works on the principle of a sliding board: the feet of the skater are on two boards sliding laterally along an axis. You can reproduce the skating stride in static on a relatively reduced area. The skating movements activate a ventilator on the side, a bit like a rowing machine. Price: 1090€, which remains affordable for a club. Demo in video soon!
Good morning England!
Several brands that made the trip from across the Channel gather on a shared stand: Alchemy Skates, Anarchy Skates, SFR and Rio. We tested some of their products in 2012. Contact comes naturally, their managers show a great will to enter the French market.
Rio has essentially low-end women's quad skates for a roller disco use. The flashy colors catch the eye. One of their models will be tested on OLS soon.
Anarchy is rather on entry level derby market. We found a 85€ model with an aluminum frame. To be tested too!
Amongst other brands, we saw Roxa, quite present on the Italian market but no more distributed on the French market. Risport (artistic skating) seems to want to come back on the French market, but also to offer training workshops with great Italian champions of the discipline. The American brand Roller Derby, which would have invented the discipline back in 1937, was there too. As for inline hockey, Tour had made the trip with mid and high range models. Skike was there displaying its skis with pneumatic wheels, as well as a litany of other unknown brands showing similar products. We have also come across several Asian brands quite active in supermarkets which are not worth being talked about.
The ISPO is a key-event in a season for skating professionals. On the other hand it is not of much interest for skaters who are not passionate. What should be remembered? The big historical brands of skating do not show the passion that motivated them at their beginnings. They have been absorbed by huge groups where skating is just an insignificant part of the business. What are worth the 2 or 3% of skating in the midst of a brand such as Nordica compared to the ski turnover? What to say about K2 which does not display a single model? They do not have the ardor and it is a shame. Hopefully several passionate persons keep on making the sport live like Seba, Powerslide and a few others. They are not the biggest, they are only a handful, but they are very courageous!
A video tour of the show will be available soon…
Useful linksBy Alfathor
Thanks to EOSkates