Powerblading deserves its own identity

Powerblading is still a fresh, new thing, and hasn’t matured yet. Many people, including those working for skating brands, oppose the term, saying this is freeskating under Powerslide coat of paint. Too bad they fail to realize advancements to gear, skating style, and possibilities powerblading bring to the table.

Equipment:

Yes, I know, there were fsk frames made for UFS boots before. Yes, I know about Salomon one made out of plastic, and with little groove. Yes, I know about K2 Soulslide skate.

Thing is, until Kizer released Advance and Arrow frames, nobody did it right. No company really cared to expand the idea of freeskating by allowing grinds. At best it was “yeah, you can even do little grinds with these…”. Powerblading frames are intended for such purpose. They are directly marketed as piece of equipment allowing aggressive tricks on big wheels, without sacrificing mobility. They are made to serve this purpose best as possible, and evolve rapidly.

Powerblading started with pretty “rough” Advance frame, and little more tuned Arrow, people started to mod them with custom h-blocks, and few months later we are waiting for Level 2, which are major upgrade on the whole concept. And don’t forget Roll Line SKIL PB frames with additional h-block are on the way too. These improvements will push the boundaries of what is possible on powerblading setups, no doubt.

Above: Kizer Advance frame. Simple, yet functional.

With powerblading frames you don’t have to worry if they’ll do the job, if their walls won’t crack or wear down too much because of grinds. They are designed for grinding. They slide better and are more durable than any UFS fsk frames before. Kizer Advance is strong and cheap, and you won’t have to spend fortune on another set of frames when you wear them down. And this, nobody can deny it, is something all new.

It’s also worth to note, that powerblading sparked creation of better wheels. For years, there was little choice when it came down to more stable, round profile ones, with stronger cores. Basically, only wheels like that were Hyper Pro 250 and Hyper Concrete. Other fsk wheels had more elliptical, speed profile, and often their cores were too weak to withstand stress that skilled freeskater or aggressive blader put on them. Powerblading bring Undercover Full Radius and Roll Line SKIL Thunder Demon wheels, and probably more to come. Both of them have more stable profile, and strong cores. I can’t help feeling these wouldn’t be made if pb wouldn’t emerge.

There is also one important thing that differentiates “powerblades” from freeskates. PB setups are universal in function! Get cheapest setup possible – Realms, Kizer Advance, ABEC3 bearings and cheap fsk wheels, and you have skates that will allow you to do the same tricks that top of the range setup made of CIII PB, CIV or Adapt boot with Kizer Arrow, Undercover PB wheels, and Swiss Ceramic bearings.

Whatever setup you’ll choose, be it budget or premium one, you won’t miss on anything. Sure, Realms in PB setup won’t be as durable and comfortable as powerblades based on better boots, but still, you’ll be able to do the same things on them.

How does it look in freeskating sector? Most freeskates do not give you any ability to grind. Exceptions are rare. Fusion line with mini soulplates on the outside of boot, no longer made Salomon FSK skates, and K2 IL Capo. All have frames hardly any good for grinding (especially ledges), very small soul area, and basically as a whole aren’t suitable for grinding anything other than copings in skateparks.

Above: Roll Line SKIL powerblading frame with replaceable H-block and Thunder Demon wheels.

There is also Seba FR-A model, and soulplate add-on, but even by going with minimum option: FR2 with souls – you’ll pay the same amount of money as for mid-tier aggressive boot with pb frameset. FR-A cost so much, that you can buy Razors Cult Street in PB setup for almost half of its price, and still, you’ll get a skate superior in function (no insides on FR-A!!!). And you can get yourself a PB set even cheaper. After-market is flooded with used, aggressive skates in good condition, and often you can get premium skate in mint condition for a bargain price. From no longer made Salomons ST, to still young USD Carbon III. Many aggressive bladers already had older, unused boots in their closets, attics and cellars, and all they needed to invest to start powerblading was price of frameset.

Powerblading setups do offer greater possibilities in trick vocabulary, but also, they give rollerbladers more options to put together pair of skates best suited to their likings and budget. “Entry fee” to a sport lowered drastically, and it is possible to get great PB setups for the same price as cheapest freeskates, namely RB Fusion X3, Seba FRX, Powerslide Metropolis and Fila NRK BX. A setup that allows you to do more than any of these skates.

Above: Dustin Weberski Xsjado 2.0 PB setup with Level 2 frame

Take a look at gallery at powerblading.org, skaters use all kinds of boots, and no two are the same. You are no longer limited to few freeskates, you can choose from more than 20 boots. From entry-level Bladerunner Furys, to expensive Adapt Harmanus Ones. You have freedom of choice. Harboots, softboots, carbon shell skates, Xsjados…  you simply get what you like the most. And it’s highly unlikely you’ll meet anybody with skates exactly like yours. And that’s always a plus, as feeling of individuality is important to any human being.

Influence

Powerblading succeed where freeskating failed, namely: in re-introducing aggressive skaters to skates with big wheels. No, these guys don’t want to sacrifice ability to grind. Many of them is having fun when bombing down the streets, but to put it simply, freeskates, for years, put too many limitations on their creativity. Not to mention the fact, freeskates are constructed in a different way than aggressive skates, and many people didn’t like slim hardshells with little toebox space.

Aggressive skaters, or at least big portion of them, hunt for adrenaline. They pull off tricks that are rarely made by majority of freeskaters, and this put more stress on skates. These guys need stronger gear, and were unable to find such for years. Yeah, there were UFS freeskating frames before, and some of them of a truly great quality, but always in limited availability and quite expensive. Kizer Advance costs significantly lower, do the same job and even more, and is designed from ground up to take lot of abuse. That’s important thing, that powerblading brought to the table: confidence. Skater who have his proven boots on feet, and a frame that he can be sure of, won’t be limited by fear of doing stunts on powerblades. Not when he have history of lacing tricks on his boots in aggressive setup. He trusts them, he knows aggressive skates are made to not fail him.

Above: Sorry, but I haven’t seen any freeskaters doing front farvs on their Twisters, FRs, Salomon FSKs etc… feel free to prove me wrong.

From freeskaters side, pb did brought something new too. Few people attempted grinds on  their freeskates. Now more and more do. It literally, exploded. People who freeskated for years, after buying pb setups learn stalls, grinds, cess slides. They expand their tricks vocabulary. Many of them buy aggressive framesets, to learn even more, because, why not? They already have most expensive part of the skates, boots. Buying used, aggressive frameset in good condition on ebay or the likes is not a big investment after all.

You can say powerblading brings more people to both freeskating and aggressive skating, at the same time! It’s a win-win situation, what’s not to love?!

Name

To some people apparently, term “powerblading” is irritating like sun is to vampires. I’ve heard and read numerous times, that this is marketing tool of Powerslide, as the name is created from words “powerslide” and “rollerblading”. In the beginning, I thought the same, I must admit.

But “powerblading” IS NOT copyrighted trademark. Yeah, it may don’t appeal to some companies that new skating style was named using word “rollerblading” that is derivative of Rollerblade® (if you do some research, you’ll see most companies oppose using word “rollerblading” too and use blading, skating or inline skating instead), and portion of trademark Powerslide®, which is probably largest company in industry at the moment.

But you know what? Who cares? “Powerblading” is not THAT similar to Powerslide, so even if they had sneaky plan to smuggle some marketing in, they basically failed. Mostly because there is none powerblading product labeled directly under Powerslide brand!!! Kizer, Undercover, USD, Xsjado, yes. And now Roll Line SKIL frames and wheels. So you can be sure most skaters won’t see straight connection to PS.

I wonder if the same people who hate on powerblading name also refuse to use word powerslide to describe one of basic slides, and popular stopping technique…

And even if name was clearly intended to ring bells, with powerblading products labeled “Powerslide Advance and Arrow” or “Powerslide Powerblading wheels” it wouldn’t be unfair to be honest. PS after all did refined whole concept of “freeskating+grinds”, made whole range of dedicated products, and support new movement with media. From my point of view, they had right to name powerblading however  they wanted to.

Also, name makes sense. It’s rollerblading, with more power. Aggressive skating with more speed and mobility. Freeskating with ability to grind. Name it as you want. “Powerblading” suit the style and focus on possibility to expand you skating, no matter if you are aggressive blader or freeskater. In both cases, with powerblades on, you can do things you weren’t able to with your old pair of skates.

Conclusion

Hate all you want, but you won’t put a spell on reality. Name already was accepted by skating community, it represent something new, and nobody cares that 20 years ago people skated TRS Lightnings with 76mm wheels, or that few guys in France grinded ledges with their Salomon FSK freeskates. You know why? Because, none of these things were perfected, polished, refined, and in the longer run, companies dedicated to aggressive/fsk abandoned these ideas. Until now, when Powerslide made it right for the first time in history. Powerblading is fun, simple as that. And it’s here to stay.

 

This post is also available in Polish on wrotkarstwo.pl: http://wrotkarstwo.pl/forum/viewtopic.php?f=115&t=6650#p73263

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10 comments

  1. Pingback: Powerblading deserves its own identity – blogged by zecoprzepraszam.wordpress.com/ - Powerblading | Powerblading
  2. Leo Oppenheim

    Your articles are well informed…But how can you say that ‘powerblading’ is not a term created by Powerslide to give them a stronger hold on the market? Take ‘hoover’ or Kleenex’ (the french use this as a term for tissue) . Powerslide came up with this term, also naming there video production company in Barcelona Powerhouse. Clearly this term was used for marketing and branding…and has worked very well. Just like ‘Rollerblade’ did in the first place. And for you to argue that other companies use the term so it obviously means that Powerslide are not getting the best marketing from it…DUDE!!! all those companies bar one are ALL under the conference (the last company bringing out these frames late on and obviously realizing it will be in there interest to put there frames under the banner of Powerblading)..! So Powerslide will obviously benefit as a whole from it.. Kizer frames are normally used hand in hand with USD and Xsjado skates for PB setups…And check out the Powerslide Nordic skates?? SEE?? Xsjado boot…they all go hand in hand? Though i agree that Powerslide have helped reignite the market don’t get it twisted…It is still Freeskating…Freeskating has just evolved…And like with aggressive the disciplines will all merge…Guarantee you, in a few years aggressive skates will have flat frames with 65-72mm curved profile wheels on Kaltik like frames. And that will revolutionize aggressive skating as people will be able to go bigger and skate previously unskateable spots.

    • kmhciura

      Dude, you do not need to school me. I know what I’m writing.

      Of course USD, Undercover, Xsjado, and Kizer are Powerslide companies – point was, they aren’t marketed as, for example “Powerslide USD”, and many skaters do not even know there is a connection between The Conference and Powerslide. These people won’t see term “powerblading” as a marketing tool.

      Secondly, there is also Roll Line SKIL company from Italy. They started to use term powerblading to describe their products. They are totally independent from Powerslide, they come from figurine inline skating/quad skating background and started making frames, wheels and bearings intended for powerblading very recently.

      K2 started to describe their products with term powerblading too, but of course it is nothing more than jumping on the bandwagon to increase sales. Weak frames with axles sticking out aren’t suitable for grinding.

      I also got info from one of independent frame companies that they are in a phase of juggling with ideas for their own powerblading frame. Guy I spoke with used exactly “powerblading” term.

      While I do agree that aggressive skaters now want to ride bigger wheels, and eventually 65-72 mm flat frames will see daylight (there are frames that work with 72-80mm antirocker setup already!), I do not think idea of powerblading will be abandoned. Tom Hyser said in be-mag interview they are planning to develop frame more intended for “rolling” and that might be frame of this type, as I doubt Blank or Rollerblade will make PB frame.

      Powerblading isn’t there to replace freeskating or aggressive – it is for people who love rolling around as much as they do like to grind. I see freeskating as more “lite” on grinds, and aggressive as more “lite” on rolling and if you look at skates dedicated to both, it is obvious.

      I know a taste of rolling on 65mm wheels. And difference in comparison to 76mm is already huge.

  3. Leo Oppenheim

    Yeah i get you there…And i wasn’t trying to school you! However, i do think powerslide came up with the term ‘powerblading’ as a marketing tool and both roll line and k2 THEN jumped on the bandwagon (as you said before..no doubt though i like th elook of the roll line frames.) Do you not see aggressive skating and freeskating/powerblading merging?? That seems to be for me the way it is going.

    • kmhciura

      I think you should talk with Beau Cottington! I’m sure you know who he is. He used to argue with people on powerblading community fb group using the same arguments as you haha.

      “Powerblading is simply a Powerslide marketing tool, that’s nothing new, we did it for years, there were Lightnings TRS with 72mm wheels, and that was always called rollerblading or aggressive skating” – and the likes

      Thing is, he claims that “powerblading” is just another name for aggressive. You claim it’s just another name for freeskating. Both terms: aggressive and freeskating describe very different styles of skating, don’t they? But powerblading is in-between both worlds. That’s why it should have a name.

  4. rui

    guys it wasnt anybody at powerslide in germany that called it like that… i can tell u the true story, i am from barcelona and i am a very very close friend to the powerhouse boys…. and its because richie and dustin discoverd a new powerfull way to roll throuh barcelona. on big wheels….. something oli,greg,me and many others where already doing for quit a while in bcn as u all know..
    theres where it all started ,going from spot to spot , but not always feelin like changing frames, so, as talented dustin and richie are . they started making crazy shit on the alu frames. ive always told them that u can do basic tricks on alu frames, but they wanted to do more tricks and so just asked powerslide to make a short plastic frame with 80mm. just for fun and also harder wheels with better cores………..
    and ofcourse . because it hapend at the powerhouse , and the boys felt like having new powers to blade new terrain, it just came out of our mouth like that powerblading… nothing more, nothing less… and u all think this was a big marketing move from powerslide??? think again …its funny how u people just create so many stories around things nobody really know nothing about… it came straight from the streets while we where having fun living and skating around barcelona.the blader lifestyle got us there.. powerslide has the power to produce big boy toys , so they do and we test and always try to have fun doin it….. and if u people dont wanna belive this.. then ur just like religious people, u prefer to live a made u up life,create drama, and give opinions on shit u dont know shit about… that’s it boys. have a nice day
    the truth will always be the truth

  5. skv012a

    I’m just chuckling at the fact that we had UFS fsk frames before, aggro guys seldom bothered with those setups and vice versa for fsk crowds. And now, essentially the same formula gave insane attention to fsk, but under a new name. If you think about it, freeskating in a powerful and all-inclusive term, but it just never reached that same media hype in past.

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