Some people might describe Clemens J.A. Krueger as a dreamer.
Not only does the German businessman hope to sell millions of skikes, which, depending on how you look at them, are either off-road skates or off-snow skis; he also intends to spawn a whole new sport, skiking, which he would like to see become part of the Olypmics.
But don't count Krueger out. He has already accomplished big things with skike. In three years, he has introduced an estimated 125,000 Europeans to "skiking" and has created a support network of more than 1000 "skike trainers."
We caught up with Krueger recently at the office of his U.S. distributor, Skates.com. Skates' owner, Lee Cole, also participated in the interview.
Lee Cole of Skates.com and Clemens Krueger of Skike Sports International
What is skiking? How do you describe it? Krueger: Skiking is not skating; it is exactly like cross country skiing on wheels.
How do you want to see skike develop? Krueger: I want skike to be a mass sport. And in Europe, that is beginning to happen. We now have about 125, 000 people who skike. And the number is rapidly increasing. What is also gaining momentum is skike-athlon, which is the summer version of a cross-country biathlon, only on skikes and with laser guns. We want to see skiking eventually become an Olympic sport. That requires a world association, which we founded this year.
Where do you use skikes, off-road or on? Krueger: Skiking is best off-road. You can do it on-road, but the fun is doing it off-road. You can do it on every surface that is not too soft. As long as the ground is hard, you can go anywhere, just like mountain biking.
What is the most fun thing to do on skikes? Krueger: Different people use skikes for different reasons. Some people just want to work out by training off-road in the fresh air. And families skike on the weekends just for fun.
How do you plan to break into the U.S. market? Krueger: Well, we've had some difficulty because our strategy is to only offer skikes if skike training is available, similar to the situation with skiiing. If you take your children to ski for the first time, you give them instruction. We've found that if there is no instruction, there's a greater chance that people will be unhappy and will abandon the sport. That's why we decided not to introduce skikes to the market without training.
In what countries do you have skike instructors? Krueger: We have about 1000 instructors in Europe and some in Australia.
How do you develop skike trainers? Krueger: We have coaches who educate new trainers. Each coach must have certification as a sports instructor or as a personal trainer and must have some medical training as well.
Who will be your skike instructors in the USA? Cole: We'll try to hit the former IISA (International Inline Skating Association) instructors and certified cross-country ski instructors, offering them a discount and getting them involved.
As you said earlier, skiking is not skating. So how do you see skike fitting into the life of an inline skater? Krueger: I would say it would be an addition. I would say if you're looking for on-road exercise or are interested in speed, go with inline. If you want to have some off-road fun with the family and do something for your health, then you skike.
We are not in competition with inline. That's nonsense.
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