Slalom will not succeed without a kit.

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John Gilmour
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Slalom will not succeed without a kit.

Post by John Gilmour » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:19 am

You can skip down a bit if this seems familiar.

Okay fellows, as I haven’t posted anything in a long time. And I guess there’s a reason for that. For the most part a lot of the challenging slalom racing has been buried, mostly because many of the courses and venues have not become increasingly more challenging and difficult on the national and international levels, but instead they have become easier in an attempt to accommodate everyone.

That is not the way it should be.

In fact, I think it’s kind of ridiculous. But I’ve said all this before. I don’t really have any interest to aspire to winning any championship where any intermediate skater can make the course.

Also, I think a lot of the speed has been stripped from the course.

But I’ve said all this before–I think there are exceptions, and my hat is off to the guys who run the Texas Sizzler and Oregon, and The Colorado guys.

But for the most part–the way I look at skateboarding, and the way I look at most extreme action sports, is that the top guys at the very top of the game–do things that intermediate level competitors think would be impossible for them to do.

For instance, just how popular would NASCAR racing be… If all the cars were limited to racing on a track with engines that limited the cars top speed to 80 miles an hour?

Sure, for a while, a lot of people would be into that. Just not me.

I always feel I have to state this, because I check back every now and again just to see where were are at.

Anyhow… On to NEW things.

The main problem with slalom skateboarding can be summarized in a single word.

FRAGMENTATION.

What do I mean by this? Well it’s pretty simple. Everything is so fragmented that is very difficult to get a hold of what’s happening.

It’s difficult to buy the slalom gear, there seemed to be no decent complete setups. It’s difficult to find a place to practice and there’s a tremendous amount of variation in the types of courses that are set, as well as constant debating of the rules.

Okay, let’s take a look at this.

I think that rules should be subject to change about once every four years (perhaps 2 at most) . I think you can debate about changing the rules, but rule changes really shouldn’t change our sport midseason.

It seems, you have to read every single thread to figure out what’s going on. It’s simply ridiculous.

Even when it comes to buying slalom cones that can be difficult.

So let’s imagine, soccer, initially it probably originated in several places at once… I don’t really care about the true history, but I think it would be reasonable to postulate this. Probably people played with soccer balls of varying sizes varying construction, they had different rules about touching the ball, what to do when the ball went out of bounds, and rules for goalies.

So probably for a while, several different leagues existed, and all of them had slightly different rules.

That’s a real problem. Eventually people agreed upon things- and the network of the game of soccer grew.

The value of a network is proportionate to the square of its size. This may not be a completely accurate statement, but if you think about it for a moment there is a value there. The MLB,NBA, NFL all are networks of teams. We need to fix our Slalom Skateboarding network.

So let’s take a look at how different companies competed as networks. MySpace, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Friendster, Napster, eharmony, Match.com, Ebay , Skype, AIM , iChat, Paypal and so many others….

We are not so different. We communicate between members, we have common interests, and like dating sites…we have events where people actually meet.

So who won the network wars? Clearly, Facebook is the leading network at the moment.
It has the highest Market Cap. Everyone is onboard. Personally I dislike facebook… but that is another topic.

Facebook won for a number of reasons.
1. Rules were simple
2. Little spam
3. Photo scrapbooking
4. Consumer commitment in “invested time”
5. Very little framentation. One stop shopping.

Simple rules and limited layouts… Facebook looks stable- pages have similarlity (like contests should have similarity- perhaps beyond ISSA rules alone- like maybe lodging too- free airport shuttle schedules etc.

We need more photo scrapbooking.

People vest time in the Forum threads, but INSTEAD it should be in their neighborhoods getting others involved (not just racers, but sponsors, cone marshals, Street sponsors (Yes I mean asking a street to support racing!) Most importantly lobbying your local city council for a place to do slalom based on its safe track record and the benefits for fighting obesity.

One more thing…

One stop shopping. Lets look at some minor failures..

Look at iChat (before you can sign up for iChat you need an AIM address or a .mac.

Before you can get verified for paypal you need a bank account

Before you can do match.com you need to subscribe with a credit card.

Facebook only required signing up. You didn't ahve to chase all over cyberspace to do it. There are rewards to one stop shopping.

Imagine..you want to go doa different type of fishing from surfcasting or fly fishing ...Slalom (salmon spelled weird) fishing- but You find that Pocket Pistol Fishing rods has a 2 year waiting list, you can go to nearly any sports stores to get fishing line- but you have to go online to order special hooks, then try to find some race discontinued reel bearings on Ebay, and then order some Rod eyelets from another country. You'll need special bindings to keep your hands on the reel which you'll have to fabricate yourself or find someone to fabricate them with a CNC machine. Or you can put together a set up..that will work ok alone, but you won't catch any fish if you are with people with better rods. sounds familiar?

So lets look at Soccer.
1. Head to nearly any sports shop brick and mortar or Online.
2. Buy a ball, cleats, goals
3. read the rules, and you can be sure they won’t change tons in 4 years.
4. Practice, play, win.

Let’s look at slalom skateboarding. REALLY. and this is greatly simplified...

1. Scratch you head and wonder what to buy- fearing buying an outdated or uncompetitive set up. (Do you worry that your soccer ball is outdated when you buy one from a shop?) Do you worry about your cleats being slow?
2. Prepare to spend about 20 hours online trying to figure out the rules and possible rule changes coming up.
3. Try to figure out how to pump. 5-30 hours to get any skill level.
4. Wonder what wheels, bearings, decks and bushings to use for each event.
5. Try to figure out which races to attend…not knowing who is going to what. Not knowing which venue is good as there is no offical review (For instance …even though I don’t play Golf I bet I could find a place that rated the courses)
6. Wonder where to look for this info. NCDSA,com, Slalom Skateboarder.com, Silverfish.com (odd since it doesn’t have slalom or skateboarding in its URL- even as an abbreviation.. hmm did you find the answer?? No...did you miss a website to check.. was it on freecarve.com under summer crosstraining by PSR?


It’s a mess.

But that fact that people go through this to skate...well it shows it must be really fun if we have this many people doing it when it is this hard to get started... WHAT IF IT WAS EASY TO GET STARTED?

So here’s what I propose we need to do.

We need to market this properly. It’s just far too difficult for any of the millions of skateboarding kids to figure this out without being personally brought into it by another slalom skateboarder.

A kid needs to walk into a sports Authority, sports chalet, Quicksilver, billabong, Maui and sons, and be able to pick up a starter kit.

There should be a race kit, and a decent starter slalom skateboard.

The starter kit should have 20 slalom cones, chalk, permanent markers–paint pens, a list of suggested courses that would be guaranteed to be available to run at a local competition, an inexpensive timing system, the rulebook, and perhaps a membership form–and the Internet URL for joining ISSA.

The starter slalom skateboard should be rated for weight, there should be a number of different bushings, two or three sets of wheels, a truck key, and a sheet with recommendations of roughly how much to turn your truck tensioning bolt to get a desired turn for your weight and the type of course you want to run.

There should be a list of URLs that have videos showing kids how to pump.

This should also be a website where kids can post their courses locally. And there should be a way to tell when those courses are active. So for example you could post that you skateboard every Monday at 123 Main St. from 2 PM to 4 PM in October. Or you could be more elaborate and list your twitter account, so you could send out a tweet to let people know when you were going to go skating.

Also on that sheet of paper would be a list of skateboard competitions and dates, with a reminder to check the URL to confirm them. It should explain that you have to do certain slalom contests in a certain order to make it to a national level.

People should be able to post photos of the slalom courses, and videos of their ability, in hopes of being able to attract the people to come race.

This simple slalom kit could cut down on a ton of the fragmentation that will forever doom slalom to being an oddball sport.

There would also be a petition form that people could sign to ask for permission for regular road closures. As well as suggesting what is important when deciding what roads were good candidates for road closures.

For instance.. A "through street" is a bad candidate. Where as a road that t-bones into another road so that people don’t use the road for through traffic much is a better candidate (no they don’t have to be dead ends.. but ideally not straight commuter shots either.

A Link to a URL showing a video of how hill hunting is done would help.

That’s it.

We need a kit.
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john gilmour

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Post by Rick Stanziale » Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:18 pm

Slalom doesn't need a kit.

Here's a thought....there's nothing wrong with slalom skateboarding.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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Post by Joe Boyle » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:20 pm

I see what you mean, but it is pretty simple to start it non-competitively.

cones/chalk. skateboard. helmet

that is as simplified as the explanation you gave for soccer. admitted, there are more things to change in slalom, but if you are just starting out it is simple. IMO it was easier to learn to pump that to play soccer to any decent degree.

The simple fact of the matter is that one sport is more 'up and coming' (explaining all the rule changes) and much less technical than the other.

At the end of the day, slalom is the same as all skating. it is a hobby to the vast majority of people who do it. just do it for the fun, perhaps start a local group and make your own rules, set your own courses etc. it will be hard to change the whole world, but locally it shouldn't be too hard.

I see your points but I don't think anything is really wrong.

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the point is...

Post by John Gilmour » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:47 am

It requires a tremendous amount of research to become good at this sport...

Perhaps worse than fly fishing..

We have to make the gear and access simpler.

For God's sake man...take a look at your own sig...


"redrilled mindless rogue|+15 spherical bennett 5.0 79a khiros|flat randal 125/35 88a sabre 97a venom|80a regrippins.
redrilled skaterbuilt conekiller hs|+7 spherical bennett 4.3 73a khiros|-12 skandal 93a sabre 97a venom|89/86a 70mm zigs."

wayyy toooo complicated...you could ask 2000 skaters on the street what your sig meant and likely NONE of then could even come close to describing your actual set up.


wtf is a rougel or a skandal??

I barely understand your sig and I helped start this whole rebirth.

Not that I don't respect your "sig" or you...but we need to make this an easy entry for others.

The very fact that you spent so much time contemplating your gear means this sport is not very accessible to others.

ASK 2000 skaters what your sig means... just randoms on the street and they would think you are insane- instead of the bad ass slalom skaer you are.


WE NEED A KIT. A simple kit..an intro..
Last edited by John Gilmour on Wed Dec 22, 2010 6:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: the point is...

Post by John Gilmour » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:58 am

.........
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Post by Erik Basil » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:21 pm

Three Questions:

--Which ReBirth did you f'ing start?
--How's that coming along?
--Where's the kit?
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Post by Ron Barbagallo » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:22 pm

John, I like your ideas - I had similar ones over a year ago

So much in fact I have presented a slalom kit idea to TRU, Target, Sports Authority, Academy, Sears, Kmart, WalMart, Modells, Big 5, Dunhams, and Amazon.com.

They all passed

No one knew what I was talking about. I don't think we're on their radar yet.

A great idea is a great idea, but if the buyers of these chains don't understand or want it, then it doesn't get on the shelves. Yes the ENTIRE stock of the skateboard depts in ALL major sporting goods chains comes down to ONE guy/girl - the buyer. This one person usually knows absolutely nothing about skateboarding, other than Tony Hawk. Skateboards are widgets to the buyers - doesn't matter who designed it or how much it would progress the sport. If the price ain't right, they don't care. If it doesn't sell, then you're out the door.

90% of these stores don't even wanna hear about longboards and we all know how huge they are becoming.
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Post by Ron Barbagallo » Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:12 pm

I'll even go one step further. I have the connections to put together a very low cost slalom board setup. Why don't I? Several reasons. One being it's a very limited market. We're talking tens of skaters a year. Absolute BEST case scenario, 1000 new skaters wanna try slalom - that's not even a 20 foot container's worth. What do I do with the other 900 pieces?

Another key reason, it would take business away from Richy and Maria in the States and Mig up in Canada. These people go waaaaay out of their way for beginners. They offer good affordable products and set them up for the skater. They even get them out on the hill afterwards. These people also happen to be my friends.

Cones? Sure, I could get those made too. Quite easily. But that will affect my friend Dan.

Radikal knockoffs? Absolutely! All day long. But Keith is my friend. Plus that fucker is heavily armed!

What I proposed last year to the ISSA was a kit idea. I asked for all info for putting on your first race to be made available in one location. Wes did this. I upped the ante this year by proclaiming that I'd like to print it all out and put it in an envelope with a DVD showing how cool slalom can be. I also volunteered to offer a free helmet with it. AND I offered other skate manus to get involved in it and offer discount coupons or packages for new skaters.

Unfortunately I haven't recieved any action from any of the manus yet, but I intend to ask them all privately if they wanna get involved. As I said before, these are my friends and I have a feeling they will see this and might wanna check it out.

Now John, I also consider you a good friend and this is not meant as an attack on you in any way! I'm just trying to show you that things have been tried and I'm still commited to make this better. Anybody wanna get involved with me?
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Post by Miguel Marco » Wed Dec 22, 2010 5:18 pm

Fatty! You can count on Fullbag. Contact me after the Holidays and we will work on something together.

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Post by John Gilmour » Wed Dec 22, 2010 6:53 pm

Erik Basil wrote:Three Questions:

--Which ReBirth did you f'ing start?
--How's that coming along?
--Where's the kit?

Hmmm I went back to edit that post- written late at night... but you caught that before I proofed it.

Erik PM me your number and I'll give you a time line..

If you feel like typing it..
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Post by John Gilmour » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:11 pm

Ron Barbagallo wrote:I'll even go one step further. I have the connections to put together a very low cost slalom board setup. Why don't I? Several reasons. One being it's a very limited market. We're talking tens of skaters a year. Absolute BEST case scenario, 1000 new skaters wanna try slalom - that's not even a 20 foot container's worth. What do I do with the other 900 pieces?

Another key reason, it would take business away from Richy and Maria in the States and Mig up in Canada. These people go waaaaay out of their way for beginners. They offer good affordable products and set them up for the skater. They even get them out on the hill afterwards. These people also happen to be my friends.

Cones? Sure, I could get those made too. Quite easily. But that will affect my friend Dan.

Radikal knockoffs? Absolutely! All day long. But Keith is my friend. Plus that fucker is heavily armed!

What I proposed last year to the ISSA was a kit idea. I asked for all info for putting on your first race to be made available in one location. Wes did this. I upped the ante this year by proclaiming that I'd like to print it all out and put it in an envelope with a DVD showing how cool slalom can be. I also volunteered to offer a free helmet with it. AND I offered other skate manus to get involved in it and offer discount coupons or packages for new skaters.

Unfortunately I haven't recieved any action from any of the manus yet, but I intend to ask them all privately if they wanna get involved. As I said before, these are my friends and I have a feeling they will see this and might wanna check it out.

Now John, I also consider you a good friend and this is not meant as an attack on you in any way! I'm just trying to show you that things have been tried and I'm still commited to make this better. Anybody wanna get involved with me?

Ron all of that is super cool. Mostly because you are cool. No attack taken at all..

I don't mean we have to make any new gear- we just have to offer completes that work well together....so it is fun right away.

Maybe you remember Val Surf? It was a mail order outlet that sold completes.. looked pretty cool. I would drool over those ads....and I had never assembled a single thing in my life with tools...so the idea of a complete IMHO was a good one.

I think it worked out well for them.

But a complete package could be sold here.

Also I agree that selling slalom to skateboard shops is hard.

So let's look at a parallel -

I Was the first SIMS and WinterStick sales rep on the East Coast. Snowboarding had been around for a few years... some people had seen it on the slopes.

I went to chain stores to try and sell the boards..no one wanted them. And the boards looked pretty cool. Much cooler than todays gear.

There was no instruction on how to ride... you took a severe beating trying to figure it out on your own (Hard to figure out like pumping).

I designed the first highback binding (The east coast required themMade of soccer shin guards, shoe goo, duct tape and a skateboard 1/2 rider for highback lean) and NEVER patented it with Jeff Grell (Who is credited with making it as he worked for Sims and rightfully he made the first Production highback.) We thought snowboarding would never get popular. We thought... only skaters and surfers would cross over and the skateboard cycle was a bust in 1983.

Sooo...

Longboards were a very hard sell for Sector Nine... many "core shops" were not interested.. So they sold to surf shops and lifestyle shops.

I think we have a chicken and egg thing too... like try to sell a squash racquet without a squash court...

If longboarding is proposed t be banned in an area...we should step forward and try to get an area secured for longboard and slalom.

Then sell those kits online.

Snowboarding which was all slalom and downhill at first (powder too)-the Terry Kidwell roundtail board came along in 1987 and just like the Z-boys snowboarding went all park.

So Alpine snowboarding (downhill and slalom) survives online.. at Hardbooter.com and alpinecarving.com, Catek.com, and so forth, freecarve.com and Bomberonline.

How well did it work out?

Well I know there are a lot more Alpine snowboarders than slalomers. And you can not buy Alpine gear easily any more at a shop...
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Post by Ron Barbagallo » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:52 pm

I remember Val Surf well - it was my first porn ;)

And I remember Sector 9 well too - they were my biggest competitor when I started my company 12 years ago. Every surf shop I went into, "Why should we buy your boards? We have Sector 9" And I couldn't disagree with them because at the time, the longboard market was like today's slalom market - almost non-existant. Why have multiple lines when you're selling only a handful of a product a year?

I think the problem in advancing the sport is not in the hard goods, it's in the execution. I can get you the product at the right price, but how do we get them into the kid's hands?

Why would a kid wanna take up slalom? Is it gonna get him laid? Is he gonna look cool to the other kids because he can wiggle his hips really fast? What is his motivation?

In my mind it's the fun and perhaps the competition. In the grand scheme of things it's fairly inexpensive and you just need a street to do it - there's plenty of those. WE all know that it's fun, but the average skater kid doesn't. We're the red headed stepchildren of skateboarding.

When I was a yout, skateboard life revolved around Skateboarder magazine. I was in New Jersey which might as well have been Borneo compared to Santa Monica, where all the cool skating was taking place. We all wanted to be Tony Alva when we rode our shitty ramps. And when the mag featured different disciplines, we tried those too. We tried to be Henry Hester (Happy Birthday Henry, by the way!) We tried to be Guy Grundy or Chuy Madrigal when there was a downhill article. We tried to be the Rhino Team when there was a catamaran feature. We tried to be Waldo Autry when we found an 8' drainage pipe.

But nowadays 90% of skateboarding in the media is street style. And the other 10% on the internet is DH. When I go to a race I still have to describe what we're doing to people. You say skateboard competition and they immediately think X Games. I have to resort to skiing to get them to understand. And 99% of the time they weren't even aware that something like that existed.

As with anything these days it's all about media coverage. How does talentless Ashley Simpson have a career? Why do you even know who Snooki is? How is it that some fat guy from a pawn shop named Chumlee has his own t-shirt? A press agent - that's how. Slalom needs a press agent. And hot chicks. And a doping scandal.
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Post by John Gilmour » Thu Dec 23, 2010 3:13 am

We used to do insane catamarans 30 people at once..

BTW did you know you can both push and brake in a cat? The braking is very effective.

Maybe we should have Cat slalom. lol

Slalom has had a hard time making it by itself.

The X-games pre-packaged alternative sports. It IMHO was a huge media success.

My first california race was WLAC 2000 and had GS TS, Butt boarding, and gravity Biking. It made for a very interesting event.

If I were a news crew... and I heard that there was a Mountain Bike race to cover... or I could cover something like the WLAC event... I'd probably got for the WLAC thing.

We are pretty much talking about the same thing..."PACKAGING".

The kids make choices about what sports to do....well because there's soccer, football, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, tennis, golf. (high salaries)

And there are sports with speed-
Mountain Biking
Dirt biking
skateboarding
Skiing
Snowboarding
Mountain boarding
Inline
(lower salaries)

They have to pick something to do.... and if we can make Slalom and a few other sports easier on parents..

we might be onto something.

For instance- parents have to change their schedules to make little league games and soccer practice.... but with an open time frame (similar to skateparks) this often fits in with parent's schedules better..... ie..so what if you are 40 minutes late in traffic to pick up kids at a skatepark...but if the little league game is gone.. it is a big deal.

My slalom courses Tavern on the Green (NYC) and Memorial Drive (Boston) in part did well because they were multi sport- inline + skateboarding + people would bring launch ramps (mostly for inline in Cambridge/Boston). We had music too in Boston.... it was a major scene. People were die hard regulars some making every Sunday in a season. at the peak we had 400 people daily- it was hte peak of Inline so most were Inliners only about 10 were skateboard slalomers (but you could not even get gear then).

So I think when a town decides to try and ban longboarding DH its time to suggest a spot for multi action sport use. A slalom kit could go hand in hand- and in the past people were concerned about "mail order" but not so much anymore.

Slalom is fun.... but few if any towns will endorse a slalom only area.... but they might endorse a hilly areas for shared sport use.

Having a slalom kit available would help towns start.
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Hmm! What's missing!

Post by Claude Regnier » Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:08 am

I think the main thing missing is money. We have everything else. It may not be totally available in a box but we really don't seem to have any real money to push it further.

It will continue to grow as it has in the last 10 years or so as long as we continue to nuture it best we can.

A kit will help! Money will help more.

Just make sure all ISSA members (paid or not) add that to their Xmas list and have a very Merry Xmas everyone. Good Luck in the NEW YEAR to All.....

:)
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Post by Ron Barbagallo » Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:54 pm

hmmmm.......

I like your idea of the " slalom jam" John. That's definitely the direction we should be taking. Scooter and I have been talking about doing something like that. I think I'll try to get a session like that for the summer. Like every Sunday morning at the hill we practice at. It's in an industrial park - it's a ghost town on Sundays. We've skated past cops and they don't even slow down.

oh and Happy and Merry to you too Claude!!!!
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Post by Erik Basil » Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:08 pm

Ron, you know my support for your kit idea and, for me, it's just a matter of us doing it, getting it done. We can bring mfgr and other support to it, if what we come up with is cool. We can't wait for the sun to arrive to get on this, though.
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Post by Ron Barbagallo » Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:16 pm

Thanks E, I know I can count on you!

I'm gonna get on the printouts this week. Sorry for the delays, I'm usually better. Had a rough coupla weeks, death in the family :(
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Post by Wesley Tucker » Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:58 pm

Just for the record . . .

. . . there has been a "kit" already in this contemporary age of slalom.

Bobby and Howard put together a wood Turner (now the Bahne Black Hill), Trackers, La Costa wheels and 25 cones in a kit for starting slalom. I know the first one I saw was at Mike's Bikes on James Island in Spring, '02.

Don't know how many they sold but Mike sold the one he had marked down to half price after about three months on the shelf.
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Post by T Whalen » Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:23 pm

I bought one of the kits fom Howard Gordon back in 2002. If I remember correctly there was a link on the old Grass Roots Slalom page.

The kit worked well for me as a long time skater that never really slalomed before 2002 to get started. The combination of slalom information the internet, a kit and local slalom events had me riding through cones in a time span of about three weeks after learning about the resurgence.

Season's Greetings to All!
Terry

John Gilmour
Team Roe Racing
Team Roe Racing
Posts: 1205
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2002 2:00 am
Location: USA

Post by John Gilmour » Sat Dec 25, 2010 4:09 am

I think thereat thing about mail order is that you do not have to have a retailer maintain inventory .... Which for them is a risk if Products do not move briskly. The issue with the original slalom kit was that I think few races could be won on that kit. I think we need a Val Surf of slalom, down hill and perhaps other gravity sports.

So let's say you saw a complete label set up - you'd click on it and it might say what races it won and who rode it

Click on axe and you get the same thing.

It should be multi manufacturer though.

Click on a board and you might see a video of it in action
One good turn deserves another
john gilmour

Adam Trahan
Phoenix, AZ, USA
Phoenix, AZ, USA
Posts: 795
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2002 2:00 am

Post by Adam Trahan » Sat Jan 01, 2011 5:01 pm

Great ideas John, I agree 100%

Online kit from any manufacture.


You are responsible for efforts in many disciplines, we used to write letters before the Internet...

You never give up even when the foolish overwhelm you...

John's advice is good.

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