One of the great things about a major competition/tradeshow like Bitter Cold is that everyone is here! Pretty much every pro, up-and-coming am, and industry head is in attendance. Mark Korte, who runs things over at Powerslide and the Conference, was kind enough to sit down for a few minutes and share his thoughts on the USD All-Star Team, skate technology, and a few other topics...
SO, TELL FOLKS WHO YOU ARE
My name is Mark Korte and I'm the USA Manager for Powerslide; I also run things at the Conference.
:10 Spare Minutes + an iPhone = this Picture and Interview
TELL US ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH USD AND POWERSLIDE AND WHAT'S GOING ON NOW.
Well, I was with Powerslide for a good many years starting in the late 90's. I went on to other things several years ago but than recently came back on board to move things forward again. In the late 90's I was fortunate enough to be involved with the original USD Team (Julio, Petty, Feinberg, Latimer, Baumstimler). It was an interesting time. These guys were amazing skaters but back than they still had things to learn. Even than I tried to do things differently than how a lot of other teams did things. Typically you have the company and the company drives what the team does. And so someone like me is left trying to connect the riders and the company - trying to keep everyone happy which is always a challenge.
So with the old USD Team we tried to give the team the freedom they needed to make decisions on how things were promoted, how products were developed, who was on the team, etc. At a point there was a trend in the industry where companies wanted to sponsor guys that weren't necessarily up to snuff; but as that USD Team, we had the team decide who made the cut or didn't. So you've got the greatest team of all time picking these up and comers like Rachard Johnson, Ian Mcleod, Demetrious George... The fact remains that even today that original USD team was undisputed one of the best teams in all of rolling history! They did a lot for USD, but more importantly for the sport. And they still are! I've known those guys for so long now and everyone's older now, their skating has only gotten better, everyone's matured a bit and they're my boys.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE USD ALL-STAR TEAM
When I came back to Powerslide, I wanted to bring these guys back with USD and we established the USD All-Star Team. So, we've got these huge legends... and... well, the official announcement hasn't been made yet, but I guess I can say this - Dustin Latimer will also be returning to USD as an additional member of the All-Star Team! So, yeah, this team is close to my heart. I came back on with Powerslide/the Conference and definitely changed things up, downsized things, made some hard decisions because we wanted to bring things back to their full strength.
So we now have the All-Star Team, the Pro Team, and also our new Young Guns Team - which includes Jojo Velasquez and Dominik Koch - and there's more of that sort of thing in the works. Basically, we want to get younger kids into the sport and so we're identifying kids with great potential now. Kids need heroes and role models and we're getting them involved in rolling and giving them something to aspire to; they totally are the future of our sport.
WHAT'S DIFFERENT ABOUT POWERSLIDE/THE CONFERENCE
All our teams, All-Star, Pro Team, Young Guns, we roll as a unit and we are 100% down for each other. The team makes the decisions because that way we have each other's backs and there's no blame or grudges like if the company was making all the decisions about the team. We ask the riders what they need, what the best way to promote things is, how products can be improved, etc.
USD is seen as pretty innovative, and we are, but it's not because of the company, it's because of our team and the fact that we listen to them. It's their ideas, their feedback. And I look to bring guys on the team who want to make rollerblading the best it can be. And that's what we have with our All Star Team. A lot of newer pros might say that they like their company's new product when they're testing it out - but it's just because they're simply excited to be rolling for that company. I don't want any yes men. Our All-Star's will just tell us what works on a new skate and what's shit and needs to be redone. They don't pull any punches. And that's why USD is so good - because we have guys like that driving the brand and the products.
We've done the same thing with Xsjado too. It is its own unit now and is run totally by the riders - Stockwell, Farmer, Wilson, Schwab. And that's what makes things so spectacular is because they're running their own shit. We could have had the "corporation" run things but it's so much better to have the riders make things happen and push the brand to evolve. So, now they drive the product development and the marketing and the branding - they are running themselves.
TELL US MORE ABOUT POWERSLIDE - THERE'S A LOT MORE TO WHAT YOU GUYS DO THAN JUST AGGRESSIVE, RIGHT?
Yeah, aggressive skating is actually only 17% of Powerslide's business. But it's really cool because the technology is what carries over from speed and rec skating to aggressive and back again. It's interesting because a lot of the aggressive technology that we've been doing is now trickling into the speed skating market. For example all the customization options and color combinations you can do with our aggressive skates - folks outside of aggressive are seeing that and want it too. Another example is the aggressive incorporation of the different plates with larger wheels has now been incorporated into free skating. The biggest technology carry-over from speed skating to aggressive has been the USD Carbons. The carbon technology is used in speed skating and it made sense to adapt it into aggressive skating. And, the USD Carbons are proof of that success. An unbelievable amount of work went into the application of that technology to aggressive, but we were able to make it happen because we have technology and engineering experience outside of just aggressive.
COOL, WELL ,THANKS SO MUCH MARK! ENJOY THE REST OF BITTER COLD!
Thanks a lot!
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