Interview with Matthias Knoll about Reign, the new inline hockey brand by Powerslide
1. Creating a new brand (nearly from scratch) is risky. What pushed you to create Reign?
Yes this is true. But we felt that Hockey needed a new image, strong, tough, built with pride. Powerslide is into every skating discipline but it has always had a dream to enter hockey as well. Some years ago we started to think about entering hockey, but couldn't find enough time. Now with the development of the Trinity system, we felt it was the right moment to enter the hockey scene with new innovations. We are not professional hockey players here, but we do play, and we love it.
Hockey is fast, exciting and fun - it is a great game for kids, as well as for anyone who enjoys skating. You don't need more than a stick and a ball to start playing. We are hoping to bring more kids into this fast paced and exciting game. So, for this unique and special market, we wanted to create a brand with a cool looks and image.
2. How did you choose the name Reign? It reminds me of the name of a former aggressive firm...
Yes good point, Reign was a liner brand run by one of our USD skaters: Josh Petty. Cool name, but this brand was not our only starting point. We feel -and felt- hockey is very very traditional, and not a lot of innovations or changes have happened over the last few decades: hockey skates have always had 4 wheels, and frames are always fixed on boots by rivets, leaving no adjustment or change options. Most of the time the boot design is always the same too. This is why with Reign, we want to create something new, a new adventure, a new Kingdom, a new Empire. For sure, not all players are ready to jump on new stuff, but those who do and give it a chance will not regret it. Having in mind that we wanted to build something new and strong, Reign was a great name for it.
3. I guess you developed the complete collection with some pro inline hockey skaters. Who are they, and how did you choose them?
Yes we had ideas, and designs we knew from our other skate productions. But when we thought about the Trinity mounting, we believed it would finally be the start for us to get into the hockey world. So we made contact with Jeff Prime, the US national coach, and he help us from the very beginning to design our skates. He got us testers like US national player Dustin Rioux, and gave us other contacts and input. He knows everybody around the World and he was of great help to launch the project and get us started. Jeff now works for us and helps in sales and marketing, and keeps us busy moving forward.
4. Do you support national teams?
Yes, the plan is to support teams and players as we have always done, like in other sports. We don't sponsor entire teams with Reign skates, but single players who use our skates. We also may be sponsoring teams with our new wheel brand, PR1ME. Right now, we are about to sign the Czech National Team for next year with Prime and then, we will take it from there. Since this is a new brand, we don't have a huge budget, so we need to go step by step, but we are for sure down to support players and teams to help push the brands and get the new innovations out there. It is interesting to see that coaches and players started to contact us from the moment they heard good things about Reign and Prime. We are proud that our start in hockey is so successful and promising.
5. Powerslide has an impressive background in other practices of skating such as freeride and speed. I imagine that your experience in these practices helped a lot to create inline hockey skates?
Yes, it was of great help, for sure. We have a lot of experience with carbon fiber shells, with materials in general, with moulds and with CNC frames. Besides, our wheel partner in the USA makes the best and fastest wheels in the world for Matter and Undercover. They also have a lot of knowledge about hockey wheels. We already have a lot of great products in other sports in the market, and these products are indeed the basis of our hockey products. Not every piece of our hockey collection is newly invented or made from scratch. We took certain chosen parts, combined them and added some new features. We tried to look at hockey in different ways, we wanted to give a new push to hockey, and not just be another brand out there with 4 fixed wheels on a hockey boot. Thus, our construction, mounting system, and materials are unique in Hockey.
6. Did these practices also give you the opportunity to enter this market with fresh eyes? With innovations and new features?
Yes, like I said above: lots of things that we tried and used before made it to hockey.
The main project behind our hockey collection is the development of the Trinity mounting system, which we made especially for hockey and freeride skating.
Our one-piece full 360° carbon and composite shells are another important part of Reign skates, and will provide more support and no more breaking down, compared to traditional hockey skates, which just have a flat outsole.
The moulded one-piece tongue with integrated protection is something hockey has not seen before.
Moreover, comfort is great, right out of the box, thanks to the new materials and construction of our padding and foam. The "Recall fit" will always adjust to your foot with the special memory foam we use, and the microfiber will lock your foot into place perfectly.
We made lots of little details and changes, also using integrated Kevlar wires in some of the upper parts of our skates. Our mounting system now enables the players for the first time to adjust their frames front and back, and side to side. A lot of new stuff, as you can see.
7. What is the added value of the 3-wheel and Trinity concepts?
Trinity simply means lower, stronger, better power transfer, more agility, and the ability to change frames in different sizes and set-ups. For the future, we also plan to transpose this system to ice - not the three-wheel system of course (laughs), but we plan on making Trinity ice blades. It also offers more balance and control, and all the people who have tested the Trinity system feel the difference - not just in hockey, but in every discipline, the skaters immediately feel better performances. And this is not just marketing bullshit, it really works and makes everybody a bit of a better skater. We think it is the future of skating.
Having 3 wheels, and especially 3 bigger wheels, means getting more speed, also more grip... as the bigger wheels have a bigger footprint for more grip. Also 3 wheels will make for shorter frames and easier cornering, faster accelerations, and actually taking the gained speed into the next turn without losing control or grip. The lighter skates increase footspeed and the biggest part is, three wheels are just more fun. The combination of speed and perfect agility is just awesome.
8. What are your projects for the future in the hockey World?
One of the goals we have is to give kids more reasons to skate. Not everybody wants to be a freeskater, speed skater or an aggressive skater. We actually think that hockey is the way to go to push kids too, it is easy to learn, fun to do and exciting. It doesn't matter if kids are great skaters: with a ball and a stick, they can all give their best and rock the game. Our main focus for hockey will be for kids, kids' skates, accessories and helping the kids in the streets to have fun playing everyhwere.
Thank you Matthias for your answers! We wish the best to Reign!