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In-Line Skating
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In 2002, in-line skating ranked among the most popular sports for children ages 6 to 17, behind basketball and soccer, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. About 7.5 million youths skate an average of over 25 times per year. This is quite a change from 1980, when Minneapolis-based Rollerblade Inc. introduced its first in-line roller skate.

Rollerblades founder, Scott Olson, was a hockey player with the Winnipeg Jets farm teams who envisioned a roller skate with the action of an ice skate that hockey players and skiers could use to train during the off-season. At first, the plan was to use modern materials to construct a model based on an 18-century design. However, Olson discovered a similar in-line skate already on the market and purchased the patent from Chicago Roller Skate Company. Olson and his brother, Brennan, perfected the design using a plastic molded ski-type boot atop a blade of polyurethane wheels. Their first sales were to Olsons teammates as well as a few to sporting goods stores. Thus began the sport of blading

Although they generally cost twice as much as conventional roller skates, in-line skates are purchased for two reasons. First, they are faster and therefore more exciting to use than conventional skates. Second, they provide skaters with a better aerobic workout, requiring the use of more muscles. However, it is more difficult to learn how to use in-line skates because they require greater balance and their speeds may cause more severe injuries if a skater falls.

By 1986, wholesale sales of in-line skates had risen to $3.5 million. Recognizing an opportunity to get in on a growing market, a number of companies began producing competitive products. First Team Sports, Inc., also based in Minneapolis, started manufacturing its Ultra-Wheels brand skates, which included the first in-line skates for children. Roller Derby Skate Corporation in Litchfield, Illinois, a manufacturer of standard roller skates since 1936, produced an in-line skate with a toe-stopper for those accustomed to conventional skates (Rollerblades had a rubber stopper located on the heel). The ice skate manufacturer Bauer entered the market with a skate that had a leather rather than plastic boot.

Rollerblade Inc.s sales increased when it expanded its target market. At first, the product was targeted to hockey players, who were 95 percent male and 18 to 25 years old. However, by broadening the target to include 18-to-35-year-old males and females, the company increased sales considerably.

By 1990, industry wholesale sales of in-line roller skates topped $50 million, which almost equaled sales in the conventional roller skate business.
Rollerblade Inc. maintained a 66 percent market share, First Team Sports had 22 percent, Bauer had 5 percent, Roller Derby had 3 percent, and other competitors combined had the remaining 4 percent. Rollerblade

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Line Roller Skate And Rollerblade Inc.. (July 9, 2021). Retrieved from