Skating has entered a new era, coming to terms with it’s own maturity, it’s gone and grown up.
The canvas has never been so blank, the potential never more creative. As skating comes-of-age so a new genre of the sport has grown.
Power-Blading, Big-wheel Blading, Mid-wheel Skating, Freestyle, Urban Skating? Though a definitive name hasn’t really stuck yet, whatever you call it, there is no denying its making a BIG impression on not only new and older bladers, but it has also raised the interest of the skate companies now dominating the market. Those companies are helping to push the sport in the direction of this new phenomenon, and that is reflected in the impact being made on many of the skate edits currently being filmed.
Introduced back in 2011 by the likes of Oli Bennet, Dustin Werbeski, and Richie Eisler who were commuting spot to spot while living in Barcelona, then helped by Joey & Todd from mushroomblading.com with Leon Basin who developed the ground-breaking Wizard frame, a new generation of skaters have been inspired to explore how transformational this new type of skating can become. Five years since it’s inception, the industry is still playing catch up.
There is evidence of a major shift towards this trend as more and more skates now come equipped with base / soul plate recesses to allow aggressive skaters the choice to accommodate the bigger wheel size ranging from 65mm through to 80mm, We can now confidently say Power-Blading is here to stay and is attracting most of its attention from those who used to skate and are interested in getting back into blading as a form of fitness, fun, family recreation or even an alternative way of commuting.
Not only has a bigger wheel size taken on its own classification, and a vast range of frame adaptations been made, the majority of both pro and aggressive skaters have converted to the 65mm+ sizes to make their blading more fast, fluid (and a lot less effort) It has also increased the discipline required in the execution and performance of certain tricks. You can no longer cheat a topside or fake a royale, you’re gonna have to do it properly to avoid sticking up and eating dirt. Anti-rocker or Flat, bigger wheels mean bigger tricks, and bigger tricks mean a bigger creative space in which to push the boundaries of what can be possible on a set of skates.
Call me biased, but K2’s new Lifestyle / Aggressive 2016 range are in my opinion the most stylish and yet progressive on the market. The K2 Midtown and K2 Uptown models are an ideal introduction to this type of skating. With its super responsive 243 frames along with the new composite frame on the K2 Midtown skate, the K2 Lifestyle range lends the feel and comfort of a recreational K2 Kinetic skate with the familiarity of an aggressive K2 Fatty template. This ends up creating a super stable skate that anyone from a recreational skater to an aggressive skater can get behind, and skate on.
Another welcomed addition to the K2 line up is K2’s new Unnatural skates with its newly developed frame that has been totally revamped. The reversible flat frame, has been really interesting to try with different wheel set ups.
It’s really exciting to see so many companies enthusiastic to develop new products to push skating to a new level. We are only just experiencing the fruits of the labour of continued testing and experimentation with the Big / Mid-Wheel lines. The amount of attention to detail and thought that are going into the products aimed at this discipline continue to produce innovations and improvements.
In a sport that has had more of its fair share of growing pains, It’s sure seems to me that skating is still determined to evolve and everyone involved with this renaissance of skating look like they are having the most fun they’ve ever had, myself included.
Words: Robert Woodbridge
Photos: Jake Eley