Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quad Plates... Past and Present

Nistevo Sport V.P. and former two time World Champion and Team USA member Doug Glass weighs in on the history and looks to the future of quad plates.

I personally lived the transition of 45 degree single action trucks to 45 degree double action trucks on into 5, 7, 10, 15, 19 degree trucks.

Like all sports, there is an evolution that cannot be stopped. So many of the products skated on early in my career were by-products of plates that were not specifically designed for speed skating.

Plates that ruled the speed market in this order from late 70’s to early 90’s: XK4 single action, XK4 double action, Magnum 45 double action, same time as the Magnum were a couple double action nylon plates. Then in 85 the Italian plate design began taking over. Plates such as Boen, Whip, and in recent the Roll-line and Star all have 15-19 degree trucks which have proven over many years they are more stable as well has responsive action. These plates are also designed with longer wheel base for additional stability in the turns. Late 80’s to 90’s Labeda Pro-Line, Hyper Power Track, with 5-7 degree double action took the indoor speed market by storm.

5-7 degree trucks proved to be very stable and provide tremendous power transfer. Without any question this change enhanced the sport of speed skating and in most cases ended up breaking all the speed records.

However, derby is not speed skating but resembles it in many ways including skater technique and skate related product selection. Derby has every aspect that speed has and more. The dynamics in the turns, stability needed at high speeds or in the pack. Derby specific techniques can be more related to roller hockey. Stop and go, lateral movement, tight turns, contact in a pack are all key elements that are considered part of ordinary roller derby.

With the increased dynamics of speed skating 45 degree trucks became obsolete by 1986. 45 degree no longer could hold up to the overall performance of the Italian brands and newer US brands. Ultimately most skaters picked an Italian brand for outdoor racing and a US brand for indoor. In many cases the brands crossed over, such as the best male quad speed skater of all time used Whip plates both indoor and outdoor.

For roller derby it is imperative skaters are first and foremost stabilized on their skates. Stability comes from the action of a plate, where the plate is mounted, wheel base on the plate and the skater’s technique. 45 degree is to squirrely, causing instability. As well 45 degree reduces power transfer during the push. Not all levels of skaters will notice the loss but if you are looking to optimize speed, power and stability then 45 degree trucks is not what you want

19 degree trucks are optimum, this action provides the best of all worlds. Between fifteen to twenty degree trucks are sufficient enough to provide all styles and levels of derby player’s maximum speed, stability and agility. 19 degree is flat enough to provide sufficient power and speed yet angled enough to ensure vast agility. 19 degree doesn’t over-react; it remains under you and responds on demand.

Artistic skaters are happy with 45, however they are not being hit, not looking for speed, they need to spin in one spot for a period of time, etc. Also, most of the top artistic skaters around the world are not using 45 any longer. I have not kept up closely with the evolution of art but from my knowledge years ago skaters were already changing to Italian plates. I don’t think the technology will regress for artistic. I also don’t see it changing much at all as the sport is so small now it is hard for the industry to invest in new product development. Derby is large enough that I think sooner than later brands are going to stop using the same truck molds they have had in their possession for 30 years and open some new innovative action. We are all tired of recycling the same trucks and relabeling the plate as a new name with the same action as 30 years ago.

-Doug Glass – Team USA 1986-1991, 2 Time World Champion

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Atom Gear... Is It Right For You?

Atom Gear has been out on the market now for nearly a month and the response has been very interesting. Getting feedback from many different types of skaters, from fresh meat, intermediate to experienced derby folk alike.
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