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On 30 October 2018 at 19:10 | updated on 03 November 2018 at 08:52

A short story of 3-wheel skates in freestyle slalom with Jürgen Pfitzner (Powerslide)

A short story of 3-wheel skates in freestyle slalom with Jürgen Pfitzner (Powerslide)

Jürgen Pfitzner, product manager at Powerslide, explains us how the German brand developed the 3-wheel skates in freestyle slalom with its entire team...

By  COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE

Powerslide : How to break the conventions

Hello Jürgen, can you introduce yourself?

Portrait de Jürgen PfitznerHi there! My name is Jürgen Pfitzner and I am a product manager at Powerslide, in charge of freeskating division. I have been at this position for quite some time and most likely if you have ever owned any freestyle slalom or freeskate product made by Powerslide, I was involved in development of what you have put on and under your feet. Today, I want to tell you a story - and as you know, all stories have a beginning. This one begins with a vision.

After a runaway success with 3-wheel skates for all different segments of inline skating from fitness to speed, from urban to off road and even for kids and inline hockey, Powerslide still had one crown jewel to snatch. This was the hardest challenge yet – to adapt, introduce and polish to perfection a concept of 3 wheel skates for freestyle slalom.

To change a perception of what freestyle slalom skate can be.

It was summer of 2015 when I started contacting the team riders all over the world, asking for their opinion about such concept. Our skaters were sceptical at the beginning and not without a reason - it was almost set in stone that rockered, 4-wheel setups are the equipment of choice for professionals in freestyle slalom. Indeed, we at Powerslide have recognized this and for years offered a wide range of 4-wheel frames built for this discipline.

Luckily, our team is composed of curious and bright women and men – they approached the subject with caution, but nonetheless, wanted to give it a go.
When you have the vision of something completely new, something that nobody did before, you need to think through a lot of factors to begin with. Questions like a choice of correct wheel size or how to set up the wheels in the frame. Shall they be equally spaced apart, or with a center wheel shifted a bit more backwards? What about a length of the frame?

Platine Powerslide Trinity 240 mm

So you restarted the R&D from scratch?

The only thing known for certain was the mounting standard. From our experience in other skate disciplines we knew about the advantages of the TRINITY 3-Point mounting system and wanted to introduce these benefits in to a freestyle slalom skate. There was simply no other option.

As we had no idea what frame length will be the best in case of freestyle slalom, we decided to make several prototypes. Initially, we have chosen 220mm, 230mm and 240mm frames for the different shoe sizes, which was close to the existing sizes we knew from 4-wheel frames. They came in variants with the center wheel right in the middle or placed farther to the back and all were equipped with rockerable axle for center wheel.

After internal dispute, a choice was made to go with 90mm wheels, because 100mm would be too difficult to handle in freestyle, 80mm would be too small and 84mm seemed too close to 80mm.

At this point in time a number of skaters adopted 3x100mm and 3x110mm as their secondary setups for speed slalom competition. We already had some experience in this area with Pleasure Tool frames which initially were made as cutting-edge frames for speed slalom. Still, no one dared to compete with such skates in battle or classic.

It was really not about making 3-wheel skates "work" in freestyle slalom. It was about delivering cutting edge performance worthy of skaters who place at the top of the rankings.

Platine Powerslide Trinity 220 mm

 

How did the tests turn out?

In December of 2015 I have met with the crew in Warsaw for the first round of testing. The skates, frames and wheels were ready to be evaluated by our riders – it was a moment of truth and future of this project was at a stake.

L'équipe Powerslide de roller freestyleYes, I know that winter is usually not the best time for skating, especially in Poland, where it´s usually cold and snowy outside (rumors about polar bears wandering around are not true, though!) and indeed, it was cold and Warsaw welcomed us with a thick layer of snow. But we had a place to skate - a skate park located in the underground parking lot of the National Stadium. Finding a date which would suit everyone during the skate season was impossible, because people are busy flying all over the world, competing, so there was no other option than winter.

About 10 freeskaters from Europe, specialized in disciplines like freestyle, speed slalom, slides and skate cross joined the test.

Of course, skating on Triskates was not something new for them. Each of them has already owned a pair of skates with 3x110mm or 3x125mm frames at home. Some of them already used such skates in speed slalom or skate cross competitions successfully. Using 3-wheel frames for freestyle or slides was something entirely new, though.

Tests started on a Friday afternoon and ended on Sunday evening. You can imagine that, as the initiator of the project, I was especially nervous. How will the athletes perform on Triskates? It was a complete unknown - top or flop – everything was possible.

What were the feedbacks of skaters?

To everyone's surprise, the team adapted really quick to three wheels, much faster than expected. Not everyone was a fan of the setup in the beginning, but the more the skaters practiced, discussed and helped each other, the better they performed. At the end of 2 1/2 intense test days with a lot of junk food, Pizza and a party, the team discussed the pros and cons of the different setups and the points that needed to be improved in order to develop the next prototypes.

Roller freestyle de PowerslideIt was no question at all to stop the testing at this point. Everyone was keen to support the further development. Based on the feedback, our R&D department at the Powerslide headquarters was quick to work on the new batch of samples. This time it was easier, as we had a foundation to start with.

Did you run other tests?

Exactly one year later, our crew has met again in Warsaw for the second round of testing. Making new samples was fast and easy, but again - finding a suitable date was the major problem. So it was the same place, the same date and almost the same team – however, this time Lorenzo Guslandi could make it.

Lorenzo was skating on Triskates with the prototype frames for a whole season during the year like the rest of the team, so it was nothing new to him. Everyone was much better prepared for the test than before, knowing what to expect and already having a grip on skating 3 wheels in freestyle slalom.

For the second round the crew only got one type of frame to test - a rockerable 90mm TRINITY frame with equally distributed wheels in 215mm, 225mm and 235mm length. Prototypes used back then became a foundation for later Katana frame model, which became the first mass produced Triskate frame dedicated for freestyle slalom.

It was another intense weekend with a lot of fun for the entire team. We all know the end of the story. The TAU boot broke the rules and has proven that Triskates can be used in freestyle slalom. It also opened a path for developing new Hardcore Evo Trinity skate. It turned out that our 3-wheel setup has some advantages a regular 4-wheel skate cannot offer like:

  • Better balance and control thanks to TRINITY mounting.
  • Some tricks, especially those performed on one wheel, are easier due to bigger wheels.
  • Two rocker options - just one wheel or two wheels – each giving different feel.
  • More speed, which is also easier to keep, during the tricks.

With all of this, I want to make you know that we at Powerslide give our riders freedom of choice. Not everyone in our team is a fan of Triskates. Enrique Rubio, for example, still prefers to slide on 4 wheels. We recognize this and do not want to force anything on him, or any other skater for that matter. That is why we are also making more traditional 4-wheel freestyle frame built with the same materials, engineering and quality as 3-wheel ones. Katana 4X80 is one of the most sophisticated freestyle frames we have ever made for 4-wheel setup and benefits greatly from Trinity mounting.

As for the rest of the team – they have quickly decided for themselves. As previously mentioned, many of our riders were skeptical at first, but they are also open-minded people. They gave Triskates a chance and fell in love with them. Nowadays our top skaters use them as their main setup for training and competing and constantly send us feedback and ideas what could be done to make our skates even better.

Now, it is not hard to guess what answer you will get if you will ask them if they want to switch back to 4 wheels for freestyle slalom... see for yourself!

Czapla in action

Testimonies of skaters

Ewelina Czapla

L'équipe Powerslide de roller freestyleWhen I have heard about Triskates dedicated for freestyle for the first time, as I remember, I had mixed feelings. It seemed to be less agile and maybe too high due to bigger wheels. On the other hand, I always trusted Powerslide and supported all their ideas even if they might look strange or unbelievable at first, haha. Anyway, I wanted to try it as soon as possible to find out more! First hours on Triskates were very promising, I have not expected that I will have such a nice feelings. Wheeling tricks were so easy to pull off and did not took much effort. Doing smooth footwork was a bit difficult at first, but as the time passed it was better and better! I have switched to Triskates now and do not think about using four wheels again.

Justyna Czapla

When I first heard about Triskates for freestyle slalom I was extremely excited because finally something brand new would come to our sport! In my daily life, I am definitely not one to blend-in with the crowd and Triskates gave me the possibility to channel that attitude in to a skating part of my life, too! I started my adventure with Triskates in 2016 and I cannot imagine coming back to 4 wheels. They make you feel like a superhero – able to do everything!

Lorenzo Demuru

I never had a possibility to test the first freestyle Triskates , but I have always been curious about them. Last year in Berlin I had a possibility to give them a try (thanks to Paulina). I approached without any expectations, just put Paulina's Tau on after my competition and started skating. The feeling has been amazing from the beginning - I could not believe that I was doing all my tricks with half of an effort and that the skates were much more stable than on four wheels. I understood that they were the perfect skates for me. The footwork was a little uncomfortable at the beginning, but it became even better than before when I got used to it. I am completely satisfied to skate on three wheels and my dream is that every freestyle skater could feel the same sensations.

Lorenzo Guslandi

For me, before I have tried them for myself, Triskates for freestyle slalom was just a crazy idea and I was sure it will not work... I was very skeptical about the whole thing. The feel was simply awesome, wheeling tricks were so good - but footwork was harder and not so smooth. However, when I went back to four wheels I really felt a huge difference – on Triskates the control was much better! Nowadays I can do things on skates I could only imagine before – I even developed a strong "I CAN DO ALL THINGS" and "I DO MAGIC" mentality, so strong that I have decided to write these phrases on my skates.

Conclusion

Maybe it is time for you to give Triskates a chance?
Closing this piece, I would like to say on behalf of Powerslide a BIG THANKS to everyone involved in this project!
Special thanks to Piotr Combrzynski, one of the nicest and best aggressive skaters out there, for organizing the two events and giving us a base with his Bladeville shop. A big thanks also goes to Aleksandra Zawislak, Ewelina Czapla as well as Aleksey Martseniuk and his brother, Victor, for sharing their flats and giving the team a place to sleep.

Thanks to all our team members and friends who were involved in the testing, giving input and helped to make this project successful. Tau and Hardcore Evo Trinity would not exist without you!

Regards, Jürgen Pfitzner 

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Released  on 30 October 2018 - Read 657 times

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