Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blue Ridge Breakdown 2012

(Roanoke, VA) When the forecast states there is fog in Roanoke, there is definitely reason for concern for both drivers & pilots which caused several delays before the start of the Blue Ridge Challenge 2012.  With the hazy conditions outside it was only clear what was taking place inside at Star City Skate which was indoor 100m flat track speed skating at its best.

Ron Dillow looking strong this season

The rotunda floor freshly coated with some WP8 was shiny & new & couldn’t wait for some Novice action on day 1 which took off without a hitch & it was all out from there till Sunday evening.  It was obvious that novice divisions were showcasing their skills & speeds by putting it all out there for their teams, families and vendors which surrounded the entire rink quite snug from wall to wall. Novice or not, they were hitting high speeds showing no fear diving into those narrow corners with hopes to come out with a solid line & then to repeat lap after lap in order to hold off the rest of the hungry pack.
Following the division races were the Novice Opens where Atom Wheels won five open events & competition was fierce as ever and evident from the loud crowds cheering making it nearly impossible to talk to someone nearby. This was a small reminder of how fun our sport still is & wishing it was like this at every event promoting tremendous growth. Day one of novice racing concluded with some exciting relays followed up with a practice session for standard and elite division skaters.

Day two was off to another early start with standard divisions coming to compete & prove who’s actually going fast at the end of this winter season. Devin Firek aka Pork Chop known for his humorous off the floor personality brought a more than serious skate side as he proved it in the Sr. men’s 5000m open by crushing and lapping the entire field with precise strategy & a few 8.7 sec laps. Firek on his IQ’s was clearly the fastest man in his division & we’re hoping to see more ‘seriousness’ from him this coming season.

(above race action, Firek moving the field over as he laps the pack Sr. Men 5000m Open)

Up & comer Kirsten Helman from Team Fast Forward misjudged her final sprint going a tad too early ended up with a bronze in the Sr. ladies open event.

(above, Kelsey Helman winner of 500m WC ladies)

Her super sister Kelsey Helman won the WC ladies 500m holding off Bell & Leech at the start/finish line.  Luigino’s Zac Sagiao (silver) & Dustin Hebson (gold Team Florida) were the two to watch in Sophomore Men & will be the two to watch in Lincoln 2012. Winner John Ristine in the Veteran Open was quite impressive which had several fast Master & Veteran skaters fighting for the top spot. In WC men’s Open 5000m event it was 32 year old east coast native Michael Cheek who battled young guns Wesley Gandy and Nate Jackson in the final laps for the gold. Grand Classic Annette Haywood (MI) won the WC ladies Open however it was 14 year old Franchesca Bell out of Team Florida sporting her shiny new IQ’s who came to play in World Class ladies division winning the overall title & taking home bragging rights for this years Blue Ridge Challenge.

(above race action - Franchesca Bell WC ladies overall winner)

(above race action Luigino's Zac attack leads sophomore men)

We realize there were several other winners & a big congrats to all that stood on the podium)
Sunday was day 3 and the last day of racing but slowing down was not anywhere on the menu as athletes still had plenty left in them before the heavy snow started to fall all over Roanoke, Virginia. Crash & burns were taking place left & right and making sure you trusted what were on your feet was crucial. High speeds with zero room for error made for some even more exciting passes & race strategies nonetheless.  Atom Wheels had an extremely successful and better turnout than the year before and we would like to thank everyone who stopped by our booth even if it was just to say hello or to clear the rumor of us still making the worlds #1 wheels (we never stopped & never will).  We couldn’t do it without your support.  Thank you and hope to see you at the races soon.
(special thanks to Mary & Buggy Allmond)
(photo courtesy Digitel Pixel Photography & Design Studio)

above race action Luigino's Zac Sagaio leads Hebson in Sophomore Men

(above John Ristine winner of the Veteran Men Open which included the Masters)

Is it Band or Brand? Winning Formula Found.

Three years in the world of speed feels like the three months before Christmas, its here and gone before you know it. Three years is also how long Atom’s IQ wheel technology has been around in this ‘banded’ wheel era we now compete in.

Well before debuting IQ, we consistently proved our non-IQ wheels to be superior to all others year after year and we’ve been leading indoor wheel development ever since! Atom then took the sport to a new level by being the first with IQ technology in flat track speed skating, setting record after record and winning multiple championships while setting the bar in wheel performance higher than ever before.

Never one to stand still, Atom looks forward to this competitive environment, which only challenges us that much more to provide our athletes with the best tools for increased speed and performance. Atom is a proven BRAND, not just a ‘band’ as some wheel manufacturers claim to have in today’s market. Fact; There’s a lot more to making the worlds fastest wheels than just bands! IQ technology is the ring, solid core, spine, spoke and high-octane developed by Atom on USA Flat Track!

“If in fact IQ wheels are getting beat consistently, then this is a big feat for inline speed skating. Atom is up for the challenge and looks forward to continuing our quest to be the fastest wheels in the world.”
- Doug Glass, owner of Atom Wheels

Atom Wheels are no longer just the ‘buzz’, we are the BRAND that leads by example and can be trusted by all skaters, coaches and dealers. Atom Wheels quest is first and foremost to enhance skater performance but we feel it is also our responsibility to ensure dealers and coaches have easy access to the best wheels in the world.

Atom Wheels... A brand you can trust, ‘Tools not Toys’

Friday, February 17, 2012

Out With the Old, In With the New!

Hello Derby World! 

We are helmet deep in all things derby and this blog is no exception! We are going to give you all the details on our updated 2.0 Atom Gear and the brand new Snap wheel. We will also tell you the best way to keep up-to-date with us so you can get to know all that Nistevo (Atom Wheels, Luigino USA, Bionic Bearings, and Atom Gear) has to offer.

Updated Product

-Atom Gear-

The Elite 2.0-Knee fit snug and contour more to the knee, better than the 1.0’s, making it more comfortable to fall and move in. Though the sizing has generally stayed the same, there will be little to no slipping because of the silicone band all the way around the top and bottom of the pad openings. The biggest improvements are definitely in the fit of the kneepad around the knee itself and the addition of the plastic shell on the outside of the pad.
The Elite 2.0-Elbow is updated with straps that go all the way around the pad, effectively eliminating the ripping that was happening with the 1.0’s. They too have the silicone band all the way around the openings making them stay in place.
We’ve made a slight change to the Palm Guard. The wrist strap is slightly longer so big hands have the option of squeezing into smaller pads and still be able to secure the strap. 
Here is a current Atom Gear sizing chart including adult and kids sizes:

 -Atom Wheels-
The Snap Wheel is a great option if you like the Poison but want more roll. The Snap is an excellent training wheel, with the same urethane as the Poison, you can push them day in and day out and then, put your good wheels on a week or two before a bout and have them fresh and ready to go. They are available in black, blue, lime green, pink, and yellow.

Stay in Touch

We have several ways you can stay up to date with everything Atom Wheels! Our Facebook and Twitter pages offer the ability to interact with fellow Atom Wheels fans, keep up to date on current events, view our photos, and enter to win prizes!

We want your feedback! What do you think about our products? What are we doing right, what needs to be changed? We want to know!

Like to watch and know your favorite Atom Wheels employees? Atom Wheels president Atomatrix and Social Media/PR person Hockey Honey each have their own fan pages. Follow them to stay up to date on top-level derby and skating!

~Check back next week, we will be discussing which Atom wheel is best for you. Also, in March, we are announcing our 2012 Sponsored Skaters! Who do you think will make the list?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Age is nothing but a number! 8.53

8.53 seconds was the one lap time clocked for 36 year old Jeremy Anderson, 'the hammerin huskey' out of Federal Way, Washington in last night’s NSC 100m flying time trial event in flat track inline speed skating.  This was no fluke by any means as Anderson wasn’t the fastest man on skates just last night but rather the last 3 events in NSC wearing the black & yellow suit of #05.  Just two weeks ago he won this very same event with a similar time (8.51) & rewind back to last year’s season finale (May 2011) he was clocked at 26.4724 mph, an 8.45 sec lap, all on this 100m rotunda NSC flat track in WA.  At 36 years of age Anderson is now eligible for the Masters category (age 35-40 year olds) for the USARS indoor speed skating season and it would be safe to say that no Master wants a piece of what Anderson is handing out to some of the Pros at these events.

(above, Jeremy Anderson's time during the 100m flying time trial at NSC)
(above: Jeremy Anderson @ age 36 still one of the fastest men on skates in the U.S.)
Anderson isn’t exactly your text book skating athlete as he’s always trained and worked at his own pace on his own terms with his own unique regimen to say the least.  Calling it as it is, one cannot fault or question him as he puts up solid results, including a Senior Men’s title in 1997 and then winning Pro Men in 2005.  Seven years later when most in his field from the early days are keeping up with the sport online or from word of mouth, Anderson is aging, racing and still kicking a** while taking some of today’s pros to school for a little lesson in speed 101.  Don’t be mistaken if you think he’s just a one lap sap, this Tacoma native is competitive in any distance on any given race day.  Ironically, Anderson in the heat of the battle last night (Feb 9th, 2012) in the Grand Champions 800m final event went down hard in the final lap breaking his collar bone in two places obviously crushing his chances for a healthy race season. (**Note: since his crash, news that Anderson is in good spirits and started his recovery has been noted)

(above, race action, Anderson 'far left' tries to hold a corner after a high speed pass into 1st place, Season 2 NSC)

How does Anderson do it?  How is he able to get faster while others are slowing down?  Is he that genetically gifted or is he one of the smartest racers on the track?  Coming from a quad background he doesn’t exactly skate on his extreme edges most of the track compared to a Chad Horne (former US world team member & National champion) per se but he makes what he has been given extraordinary & his fans simply want more!  It wasn’t too long ago that I caught up with Jeremy Anderson and here’s my interview with the Master’s speed demon!

(Above, Anderson amused when asked if he's ready to take a beating in Master Men 2012)
(PS) So Jeremy, let’s get the mushy stuff out of the way shall we? How are you & what have you been up to lately?
(JA) I’m doing great, just working a lot, and trying to stay in shape for the upcoming season. I’ve been teaching at a local rink here in WA, helping the kids get ready for some big races, and also practicing at my club Pattison’s West. I’m having a lot of good practices, just trying to make as many as I can. I try to spend as much time with my kids, so I miss quite a few practices just to be with them!

(PS) How come we didn’t see you at Indoor Nationals last year?  Something more important?
(JA) Yes it’s true; I took my son to a Dance convention in Las Vegas. I made the decision last year after Nationals. Money has been a big deciding factor also, without a full Sponsor; I just can’t afford to do everything I want to. I wish I could go; I’ve been skating really well lately.
(above race action; Indoor Nationals, Anderson 'right' has his game face on)
(PS) So let’s get down to business.  You’re 35-36 and I think the older you get the faster you go. Do you honestly feel that way or do you feel differently?
(JA) I honestly feel that I am getting faster, could be the technology of the skates, wheels, and frames but you still need to have the legs to hold the corners right? :)
It’s been tough the past few years, I had knee surgery 2 years ago which put me back a ways. I still have pain from time to time, but I’m glad I had it done.
Now with NSC, racing the best guys in the world 4-5 times a year, I feel I will keep getting better as long as I go to practice, and race these guys on a regular basis!

(above, Anderson during his 100m flying time trial winning with an 8.45 sec lap)
(PS) What are your skating credentials?  National championships, records etc etc? (JA)Well I’ve been skating for 23 years now, I have won senior men indoor nationals once, Pro men once, and from 1995 to 2005 I was in the top 4 every year at USARS Nationals, I made pretty much every final, I have held many records which none are around today (haha). I have multiple medals from relays, also some records from relays. I placed 2nd in the X-Games downhill 1999, that was so fun! lol - I have done a little outdoors
(above, race action PRO Men at Indoor Nationals, Anderson sits in 2nd)
(PS) Even after you won senior men, why didn’t you just skate in your appropriate age division and try to win those divisions as well?
(JA) I felt that if I could keep up with these guys or WIN, I should try to stay in the Pro division, it has the best of the best in there and that’s what I wanted people to think about me.
I like people to say; wow that guy shouldn’t be in that division, and then make finals, or even place in that event. When you make a final in Pro you have already won, it is very hard to make a final, the heats and semis are usually faster than the final.

(above race action, Anderson sits in 3rd, Pro-Men in FL)
(PS) When do you think you’ll start to consider skating your age division or will you retire before that happens?
(JA) I think next year I will skate my division, I will be first year as a Master man. I will still skate the NSC races which are crazy fast. I know there are a lot of guys who are the same age or older that if they skated it would be a battle. They know who they are! You know how people come back to race, the difference is I never stopped, that will be my advantage.

(above race action, Anderson far left races Eben Jackson to the 2nd marker coming out of turn 2 at last year's NSC)
(PS) Do you think some skaters skate pro because it’s an “easy out”? Meaning, if they lose in PRO it’s understood because it’s PRO however if they skate their appropriate div whether it’s Jr.Men or Classic or whatever it’s a much tougher spot to be in!
(JA) I don’t think it’s an easy out for them in that aspect. I think they all want to try to run with the big boys, and then they can say they skate PRO! It also might be easier to skate PRO, then make it out of their division if it is tough. There are probably a lot of guys that shouldn’t be in there, but then I think how are they going to get better if they don’t try, keep trying! When PRO started, we had 60 guys tryout. Now there are only 18-25 maybe? If there is a chance you can win your division, or if you make finals all the time, then try at least one year to skate PRO.

(PS) I know you get this asked a lot but what’s your secret?  Is it the intensity or is it more natural or are you just damn right talented or gifted?  There’s no 36 year old in the country that can battle with the pros like you do. There are few I can think of in the world perhaps but not so much in the U.S.
(JA) Well my secret is technique, that’s what I work on. Turning corners is a very tough thing to do correctly so I study peoples feet, shoulders, head, where they step in the corner, then I go to work on making it better. Even being 36 is not that bad as long as you stay fit. Inline skating came very easy for me; I was able to lean into a corner at full speed before I knew what I was doing. I still feel that my technique, even natural ability has helped me throughout these years and will continue to help 

(PS) What is your weakness? Or weaknesses? What preparations do you do prior to race time?
(JA) I think my weakness is training outside of practice. I use to run stairs, skate a little outside, and now it is hard to get motivated to get out there and hurt myself, I usually wait to give 110% in my races, I really should train that way then racing would be easier. haha
I think a good attitude before any race is the key, if you go in there with a bad one you will most likely skate badly. Stay positive, even if you aren’t doing as well as you think you should, remember to have fun! I usually try to joke around with the guys before the race to break the ice.

(PS) You come from a huge quad background & you made the transition successfully obviously, but were you on board when inlines came around or were you that guy or tried fighting it and didn’t want to go down this road?
(JA) I definitely thought that inlines were a joke; I said I will NEVER wear those things! Then one meet I saw this guy blow by us and lap us in a 15 lap race, WOW! This guy was moving. I then put them on and started ripping corners. Ever since then I really never went back to quads. I love the speed of inlines. Now with the BIG wheels it is so much fun to rip an 8.5 or less per lap. I smile every time I can go that fast!!

(PS) One thing unique about you even from back in the day is that you’re an UP starter.  Even in quads, a down start was 99% how everyone started, but you have ALWAYS started up.  Why?  I’m sure you’ve had your share of false starts, has that cost you in short distances?
(JA) Starting down never felt comfortable to me, it hurt my knees. I always thought why do you guys start down if you have to get right back up again? If you skate up start up. LOL. I have always had a fast reaction and most of the time won starts in races. Sure I have had a few jumps, but who hasn’t; I don’t think that starting up makes you a “JUMPER”. Even if you start down you can jump, it’s all about reading the start judge. When you go down on the floor, try to time the starter that’s what I do, then you can get a feel for his or her trigger.
Why do all the guys in outdoor start up? Well it’s all up to the comfort in my opinion.

(PS) Who did you look up to when you were up & coming?
Wow there are so many, first was Doug Glass, he helped me a lot in the beginning, then of course Dante and Tony Muse. When I was Junior, Derek Parra told me to watch where I’m going when I was racing in Vegas, this made me feel great, even though it was not a nice thing that meant I was getting fast enough to race with the big boys haha. The list is big for people I looked up to, even if they were younger. I hope I have inspired kids, and adults just like these guys have to me.
(above Anderson mingles w/ the fans right before his 100m flying time trial)
(PS) You’re NEVER in the outdoor scene, why?  Aspirations to make the world team before?
What’s the best you’ve done outdoors?
(JA) Outdoor racing takes a lot of training, I live in Seattle where it rains way too much, maybe not a lot at one time but a constant drizzle. I have trained in the rain and it sucks, you really need to be on your skates to be good outdoors.
I really never tried to make the team, when I started getting to the point of being on top I already had a child, so had to have a steady job. Indoor was always at night after work, so it was very convenient to do that more than outdoor. I still skate outdoor when I can and if it is nice out. I think I have always been a top 10 guy at any outdoor meets I went to, except for marathons. That is a different thing all together, I have gotten top 10 at one Marathon, and get this, and it was when it was raining, haha!

(PS) You’ve been fortunate to train on some great National sized floors, how important has that been to your training?
(JA) Being on the Pattison’s Floor is the best. This floor is the fastest floor in the world. I have not skated on a better floor when it is tight. I think to train on a floor that is a good as the one I have, then it’s very important, but it can also make you spoiled. When you go to a floor that is not as good; most of our kids complain about it lol. So having a good floor can help and it can also mess you up. As for the National floor, we have a great advantage because we know where to step, we know how to pass, and are prepared for the overall speed. Thank you Mike Pattison!
(above, Jeremy Anderson's coach Mike Pattison & owner of Pattison's West in Federal Way, WA)
(PS) This might be your opportunity to speak to the masses out there skating or not. What do you have to say to anyone or everyone?
(JA) If you ever want to get into a sport that is a team sport, but also an individual sport this is the one. Once you hit that first corner and whip around the cone it is the best feeling. I do not think I will ever stop skating. I want to thank everyone who has beaten me, knocked me down, and who has given me a compliment. If it wasn’t for you I would not be doing this. Make sure that you are having FUN, without that you will never be happy, regardless of how many medals you get!!

(PS)THANKS again Jeremy, your help, input and knowledge about this sport is invaluable.
(JA)Thank you for letting me have this opportunity, I really do love this sport!!

There it is, Jeremy Anderson as you've never heard him before.  Wishing him a speedy recovery and hope to see him back in the races real soon. Stay tuned as ATOM Wheels connects you to the world's best right here at ATOM WHEELS. If you really want to be in the 'know'. Make sure you 'Like' us on Facebook.  See you soon!

Pete Snell

Saturday, February 4, 2012

History Lesson in Speed – The Forgotten Muse Brother!

aUSA speed skating has come a long way--there’s no denying it--and it would be safe to say that the sport encountered somewhat of a jolt around 1991 with the inclusion of inline skates changing the sport in many ways. One cannot help but wonder if Chad Hedrick would have done what he did (52-time inline world champion and Olympic gold medalist on long track ice) on quad skates had inlines never been introduced. Would Joey Mantia then have come along and won 28 world titles on quads? The best in the U.S and in the world on quads weren’t necessarily destined to dominate on inline skates, and only a few actually proved that either on quads or inlines they were still the world’s best! The Muse name in roller sports has been around for generations, but there’s one Muse brother known as the “KING of Quads.” We often forget who actually first ruled the inline scene on USA flat track speed skating, winning two consecutive U.S championships in Senior Men (92’ and 93’) and multiple world titles, all on inline skates, leaving not just some big wins but a legacy.

(Above; Dante Muse 1985 cover shot for Sports Illustrated
p.s. look at the height of that pylon!)
Dante Muse (Des Moines, IA) in the early ‘80s was quickly climbing the ranks as a freshman, sophomore and then junior. The (Jeff) Foster (1984 Senior Men U.S Indoor Champion) and (Rob) Dunn (1980-1982 Senior Men U.S Indoor Champion) era was fading and it was apparent who would pick up the torch quicker than anyone else in the U.S. Dante’s younger brother Tony (who later in his own right became a 17-time world champion and won multiple U.S national titles) wasn’t too far behind, but it was Dante that was blossoming rapidly into the star skater in the U.S. His personality & charisma was special & some would even say he definitely broke the mold. Spectators and fans alike would watch and stare while the golden child warmed up before a race just to get a glimpse of his supernatural abilities and wonder how this 145-pound kid with taped glasses always seemed to win races. His technique was more than unique as he skated half a body length to the inside (toward the pylon) of the track while near floating behind any skater ahead of him. The saying was “When the floor got slick from everyone skating on it, Dante still had fresh plastic to skate on because he skated on his own line or track on the floor.” He drafted so close to his opponent while matching stroke for stroke oftentimes literally stepping under the skater ahead of him without ever touching him or committing a foul. His passes were flawless at top speeds, and his opponents typically never knew he actually was there, but they also could never forget about him in any race until after the finish line because he was, indeed, always there! His style could not be mimicked even if someone attempted to mirror his body position on the floor. His races were talked about well after the competition by kids and coaches no matter the outcome. Practice drills at random speed teams were being named after him. He very seldom fell, perhaps once every five years, and it certainly wasn’t due to his own actions. He was absolutely one of a kind.

 (Above: Race action Dante Muse 1986 U.S National Championships)
(Above race action Indoor Nationals from left Carr, Glass & Muse -
Notice Dante's left skate after a double late pass)
The Iowa team coached by Dante’s older brother, Mark, was by far one of the most successful teams during the Dante era. Champion after champion emerged from the program and it would often attract other good skaters around the country to train with the world’s best in IA. In 1986, at just 20 years of age, Dante already had already won his first U.S senior individual indoor title and from there forward it often seemed skaters were racing for second place in Senior Men, as the fastest man on skates in the fastest division had first place secured. Five years later, while Dante was still at the top of his game, inline skates were introduced, and just like everyone else, he either had to get on board or pick another day job. With too much invested and the hunger burning more than ever to keep winning, he was out to prove he was still “KING.” In 1992 (first year of U.S Inline Championships) Dante proved he belonged and became the only athlete to ever win a Senior Men’s title on quads and inlines. Although he won these titles on separate years, it didn’t take away his status as one of best this sport has ever seen!

(above from left: Derek Parra, Dante Muse, Tony Muse 1990 U.S World Championships)

(above, Dante's coach & older brother Mark Muse 'left' & younger brother Tony Muse 'right')

With the hype of inline skates and everything changing literally overnight, one thing was certain-- the playing field had definitely been leveled in world class men. Hundreds of skaters became competitive in all divisions because the sport had just changed forever! So what happened to the King? Had he accomplished everything and retired from speed on his terms? I caught up with him recently, and here’s my interview with 14-time world champion, the "KING" Dante Muse.

(Above; Snell and Muse - pre-race  1500m final Pensacola, FL 1993 U.S National Championships)

(PS) So to start with the above about still winning on inlines before you slowly retired from the speed skating scene altogether and more toward life, family, a little aggressive skating, why do you think a lot of people have forgotten that you actually were winning at the world level ON INLINES before you officially took your speed skates off?

(DM) Pretty much my whole career was on quads. Yes, I won on both, but you have to remember, inlines were so new to the sport that it was like ‘the blind leading the blind.’ No one really made a bang until Chad’s unique style came along. It was then that everyone got overshadowed.

(above from right: Scott Hiatt, Doug Glass, Dante Muse, Derek Parra, Tony Muse @ the Orlando Classic)

(PS) When you read things like "Hedrick ended the Muses’ careers" or "the Muses tried to keep him off the team" blah blah blah, does that get under your skin at all?

(DM) In all fairness, I don’t think we tried to keep Chad off the team. Who was before my time or keeping me from making the team? Didn’t I replace them? That’s how sports and definitely how our sport goes. I’m happy with my skating career and where I am today. To each their own, right? Chad was an amazing skater. We both have the same internal drive to never give up or lose and I think we both respect that about each other.

(above from left Parra, Tony Muse, Joe, Chad Hedrick and Dante Muse far right- 1994 France)

(PS) When speaking of quad speed skating, your name rolls off the tongue first, especially when talking to ex-quad speed skaters. Do you think being the KING of quads is the reason why most forget about your inline success?

(DM) I believe so, but again it was new, plus sponsorships and there was just a lot going on.

(Above from left Tony Muse, Dante Muse, Derek Parra 1991 Belgium World Championships)

(above, 1986 Australia World Championships, Dante Muse leads the way)
(PS) I know you were a pretty laid-back guy OFF the track; did you feel that you had let your skating do the talking ON the track and just left it at that?

(DM) I honestly was too nervous to be cocky!

(PS) You won 14 world titles in your skating career: how many were quads and how many were inlines?

(DM) I definitely won way more on quads, but I don’t know the totals.

(Above: Parra and Muses celebrate gold in the WC relay 1991 Belgeum)

(PS) Guess I’ll look that up for you. And it’s nine on quads and five on inlines.

(above, Dante Muse 1990 Olympic Sports Fest)

(PS) Do you look at those differently today or is a gold medal a gold medal? When thinking about that era of transition to inlines, what memory comes to mind first?

(DM) Each title has a special memory for sure. When I think about the time of transition I remember no one really knew how to skate correctly and one thing was for sure, it is opposite of quads!!!

(above: Americans Glass, Dante Muse and Tony Muse far right, 1987 world championships)

(PS) When inlines were first introduced to our sport, I remember reading somewhere that you had made a comment (not favorable) about inlines and later had to apologize for it, but what did you really think when all this was taking place, especially since you were THE MAN at the time?

(DM) I don’t even remember the comment to be honest, I said a lot of things. The main group of skaters that started on inlines was the marathon skaters that didn’t really race indoors. I was an indoor skater hands down. I honestly don’t think there was that much respect, which made things really unpleasant in the beginning of that era.

(PS) What was the game plan for your team and Des Moines West when you guys realized just as well as we all did that without inlines you were not going to win races?

(DM) At that time we definitely had an amazingly strong team on quads. When inlines came into play, it was either switch or eat everyone’s dust! For sure it was a scramble for everyone because we weren’t just going to take a back seat, so our team had to basically start over with no real direction.

(PS) I don't think a lot of people know or remember this but you had a lot of trouble transitioning to inlines due to the mere fact that you have severe pronation, especially on your right foot. That thing caves or falls in about 40 percent compared to a normal foot. Nonetheless you still found a way to win. We know that you probably would have ridden your success wave a little while longer had it not been for this particular circumstance that you couldn’t control. Thoughts?

(DM) In all honesty, it was my constant struggle with my severe pronation that sucked the last will in me to continue racing. I survived as long as I did solely on my desire to not lose or quit. My father instilled this drive in me as my teacher growing up and I thank him for that every day, but yes, I just could not get my pronation problem fixed.

(above - U.S World Team selection 1993)

(PS) We rarely witnessed you fall in races even when people would fall around you or try to knock you down. How were you so agile on quads and inlines?

(DM) I learned to skate before I could walk literally. My brothers and sisters used to put skates on me and pull me around in my saucer walker. My father was my first coach. Our house was built into our first rink, so I REALLY grew up on skates. I did all disciplines until I was 11 or so, then I chose just racing. My father really broke down the structure of weight transfer and body structure. I believe that it was the combination of growing up on skates mixed with some God-given talent.

(above: Tony & Dante Muse (age 16)

(PS) You stopped skating indoor speed well before you retired from the sport altogether-- is that an accurate statement? Can you get more specific as to what those timelines were or the reasons behind them?

(DM) My last world championships were in 1994 in France. I continued racing occasionally outdoors for my sponsors I had at the time. I also was flown to Italy, South Africa, and Australia to teach and help their programs. My last indoor race was in 1996 indoor nationals. I competed on both quads and inlines. I believe I completely retired in ‘98 or ‘99.

(above from left: Chad Hedrick, Dante Muse, Gicquel - 20K elim track race and Dante's last world championships)

(above: last Orlando Classic in 1991 on quad skates, Muse in middle on 1st)

(PS) Speaking of sponsorships, you started and skated most of your career well before sponsorships were a part of our sport. You were fortunate to get a taste of both, but mostly 'no sponsorships.' How do you think sponsorships have affected our sport? Do you keep up with speed at all these days?
(above, 1993 International Event.  Dante Muse in far right of pic)

(Above: Dante Muse makes the Sports Illustrated Kids cover at 18 years of age)

(DM) With sponsorship definitely came more races and more obligations (at least for me). I started losing precious training and personal time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed racing as a sponsored skater, the adjustment was just really difficult for me. There was no more racing for you. It was 100 percent--a different dynamic for sure. I felt it became who could field the biggest team at each event. In my opinion I think team skating should only be allowed at the world events. As far as keeping up with the sport, I pretty much disappeared in ‘98 or ‘99 by design. I don’t feel I retired on my terms, so sticking around was just killing me! I think I could watch and enjoy it now though :)

(Above: Dante Muse in 1995 Team Hyper)

(PS) Occasional race between you & brother (Tony)?

(DM) I don’t think Tony wants a piece of me! lol --no seriously, he doesn’t.
(above from right, Tony Muse, Dante Muse)
(PS) Speaking of Tony, he's still pretty active with speed, especially outdoor racing in the Master categories, hitting up the big marathons here in the States and doing a little cycling as well. Did you think he would still be going today and does it ever spark a flame in you to go fast again? Tony is also pretty vocal and opinionated about our speed governing body, Team USA selection process etc., while you, on the other hand, have been extremely quiet. Is that all by design or do you have thoughts on any of this?

(DM) That is great he still competes and enjoys it, good for him. I wish I could. The last time I had inlines on (other than my aggressive skates) people were wearing 80 mm wheels. As far as my thought on skating, I wish there was much more involvement like from my era.

(PS) I remember reading this article years ago from Sports Illustrated titled “A Sibling Rivalry On Wheels” – v.10.03.88 - SI Vault, and it was still interesting to read today because it talked about how you went about your training (skating two to three practices a week) while Tony and the rest of the world were skating twice as much, riding a hell of a lot more miles on bikes, wearing their lucky Underoos when they raced, okay, okay, minus the Underoos part--maybe that was someone else, but the point being that you were naturally so dang fast and no one could figure it out! Granted you skated a line on an indoor flat track that no one else did, which was an advantage no doubt, but we all know that wasn't only it. Thoughts?

(above leading the pack in 1986 at the world championships Dante Muse)

(DM) I was given a talent and I worked really hard. Practice was 110 percent every practice, that was what made the difference. I’ll give you an example and Tony will agree. At practice, and say it’s a 30 lap race. I tried to lap everyone as many times as possible, not just once, but as MANY times as I could. Why not just wait and throw out the juice with three or four to go or rather throw that last second pass that didn’t seem to exist??? I THREW IT! That’s just how I thought about racing! On the other hand, if I trained too much, I became very tired both physically and mentally. If I could not give 110 percent, then why do it?? I practiced not just my racing skills, I mentally trained and I honestly think that gave me an edge. Hope that all make sense?

(PS) We know you drifted to the aggressive skate scene right after speed. What was your big attraction to that genre of skating? I understand you're still doing it (some) and you're pretty dang good at it? Have you competed and/or will continue to compete?

(DM) I always used to see the ramps at different events. It looked so fun. I actually skated a few times on my speed skates. One day at our rink, one of our young speed skaters was grinding our curb. It looked so fun! He said I should try it out. I put his skates on, and that was it. I guess it filled the void I had at that time of my life. I’ve been doing it for about 13 years. I have competed a few times, but I just do it for fun at this point in my life.

(above far left Dante Muse @ 89 World Championships in New Zealand)

(PS) How long have you been playing roller derby? From what I've seen so far and heard, you're pretty good at that also. Derby is not all about speed, but I know it comes in super handy. What are your thoughts on derby coming from a speed background? Your roller derby team name is called “Your Mom.” Your derby name is ‘Tinker Bell.” Tony is “Peter Pan.” I obviously see the pun in this since I personally know you guys, but how do you explain to everyone else who doesn't know you guys? What's the next step for “Your Mom” (well not ‘your mom’ literally but you know what I mean  :)?

(DM) I first started coaching a team that my wife Romina plays on. I started a men’s team in February of 2011. I love derby! For sure my life of skating has helped out a bunch in regards to helping my team and I in derby, there’s no denying that.

The story of the team name “Your Mom”-- my friends from the rink and I run and play dodgeball once a week on skates for about 2 hours solid. When we heard about men’s derby, we talked about making a team. When deciding on a name, it was easy. We guys used that phrase on a regular basis. It seemed so funny. As for our derby names, we wanted to stay with the fun and funny names theme. We decided on foo foo names. We picked Tony’s name. He didn’t really like it at first, but I think he is ok with it now. It’s not too bad right??? We played a couple games before our brother Mark started coaching us. We are all back together again, it’s really nice and yes, we’re doing quite well in MRDA and plan on going all the way this year--hopefully injury free. (Note: since this interview Dante has had his first knee surgery since starting derby and is recovering quite well.)

(above from left; Dante, Mark and Tony Muse 2/19/2011)

(above: Men's Roller Derby Team 'YOUR MOM')
& props to my buddy Seahorses Forever lol

(Tinker Bell)
(PS) Since you're on your quads so much with derby, would you ever come back one year to skate quad speed nationals? Not too farfetched right?

(DM) I actually skated three or four practices last year. I would consider racing on quads again; I just need to have more time on my skates. I have not trained like that for about 12 years or so. Oh wait, I never really trained, right? J I currently have my skates on about five to six days a week, but it’s not training. I think I just need the right push to finally do it I guess!

(PS) You got married in 2006? One child, correct? Lorenza? How's family life? Do you own and run one of the family rinks these days?

(Dante & his daughter Lorenza Muse)

(above: Lorenza Muse almost 4 years old showing off her amazing balance)

(DM) I got married in 2005. My wife, Romina (ex-Italian world team speed skater and current member of the (Des Moines Derby Dames) and I run one of our family rinks here in Des Moines, IA. It’s called Skate North Incrediroll. We have an almost four-year-old daughter named Lorenza. She started skating when she was ten months old. She has got amazing balance (like her mama).

(Above; 5th from left, Romina Muse skating for Team Italy in the 90's)

(above, Romina 'left' wife of Dante Muse 'right")

(PS) Fondest memory when you look back at your speed career?

(DM) Everything!

(PS) Miss anything about speed?

(DM) I miss everything! I really do!

(PS) What's the best advice you would give someone that wants to do what you did with your career whether it's speed, aggressive or roller derby?

(DM) Advice? You’ve got to love it. As I said before, I did other sports growing up but in the end I chose racing, because I simply LOVED IT!

(PS) I want to thank you for this interview and it's great to hear from you and all your fans will certainly appreciate it greatly. Hope we can continue this another day or see if we can answer some questions from a few of the Dante clan. Thanks, Dante, you’ve been a great friend along the way and best of luck to you this season with Atom Wheels and Your Mom! :)

Well there you have it, Dante Muse uncut! Stay tuned as ATOM Wheels connects you to the world's best right here at ATOM WHEELS. If you really want to be in the 'know'. Make sure you 'Like' us on Facebook.  See you soon!

Pete Snell
Atom Wheels Inline Speed on Facebook

p.s. thanks to Ami Raynor :)