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A Number of inline skate innovations are Anticipated for the 1997-98 season.

A Few of the innovations include softboot technologyfrom Hypno, UltraWheels, Roller Derby, Oxygen and K2. Rollerblade and Tecnica, on the other hand, are launching skates usingplastic-shell front. Dalbello Sports and Kaoz are also venturing to the inline marketplace. Step off-road and frames introductionsare also anticipated to during the 1997-98 season.

 Inline show shaping up to be the most exciting Because softboot introBelieve it or not, there really has not been a Lot of innovation in the inline industry over the last couple of years. Yes,there's been a big story or two - the increase of competitive and baseball product, Roces' off-road skates along with K2'sshoelike Endotech skates - but overall there's been little to grab the consumer's imagination. But proving that competition drives Innovation, futures for the 1997-'98 season appear to be teeming with inventions, fromimprovements in softboot technology to suspension approaches to step eyeglasses to off-road introductions. This year's inlineofferings in the NSGA series are possibly the most dramatic since 1994, when K2 first entered the market with its softboot skates.

Soft GoodsNot surprisingly, the proliferation and Improvement of soft skates leads the pack, as most - but not all - leading skatemanufacturers delve into the softboot category. "The afternoon of plastic shaped skates is Going fast by the roadside," states Hypno's Nate Otis. "This is going to be a footwearenterprise." Hypno's pushing the fashion element to its Limits using its hiking-boot motivated removable-frame skates that mark the Italy-basedcompany's initial entry in the U.S. market. While its '97 product only marginally resembles Footwear, Hypno's 11 brand new skates for 1998 (SRP: $199 to $350) aspire to bethe real thing.

 The line comprises four Timberlandesque hiking boots, four women's-lasted and lower-cut boots designed to emulatehiking boots or aerobic shoes and three urban versions, including a basketball high-top, a black structure boot and- for runwaymodels on wheels - a white patent-leather boot with black Dalmatian spots. UltraWheels, which travelled tender for 1997 with Hybrid boots, has shed the remainder of its plastic shell for 1998 with its ownnew Biofit skates ($179 to $279), a line of five models which were co-developed with an unnamed maker of golf and fitness shoes.The skates clearly emulate K2's Endotech light hiker design, but retain cuff buckles for added stability.

Bauer, after years offighting with its recreational lineup, has taken a large leap with its new X-Tra series of gym (SRP: $229-$329), constructedaround a proprietary "Hull and Keel" energy system created for superior efficacy and shock absorption. The line-topping guys's X-Ert features a Mid-cut boot, a magnesium/zinc frame, ABEC 5 bearings and 78mm Hyper Air wheels. Bauer isalso employing the Hull and Keel systems in its first in-house designed racing skate, the Light Speed (SRP: $429.99).

With everyone chasing K2, the Seattle-based Business is keeping tight-lipped about its primary introductions, although speculationis that it will enhance the fashion element of its Endotech skates and bring forward functionality progress to several models. K2has said, however, it's going to expand its women's-special lineup, which will now consist of hockey, road, fitness and recmodels, in addition to a new women's hockey last for its luxury Mach 4. K2 will also launch a new competitive street and vertskate called the King 55 and also a lower-priced women's Exotech recreational skate known as the Ascent.

For the price/value crowd, Roller Derby is Offering its gentle Ground Control skates (SRP: $160 to $250) having anathletic-footwear appearance and frames constructed of metal and plastic.

Alpina also has its sights on the value class, providingsoft-style skates between $120 and $200 retail. Targeting the recreational skater, Oxygen will Substitute its staid plastic Xenon series with its own new Ozone collection,designed to be lightweight and better-fitting.

The skates have been created using the organization's new Metafit design procedurewhich uses heat-sensitive materials and "thermographic mapping" to find hot spots in a boot up, preventing them in the finisheddesign. HardlinersThe big news from Rollerblade is the Market leader is standing ground on the plastic-shell front. Going from its trend towardheavier skates, the manufacturer has generated the e-Series, its lightest models because the first Aeroblade.

 The company istaking advantage of a brand new bi-injection process that allows two separate durometer plastics to be poured into a single mould. Topping the series is your e-Pro (SRP: $399), That comes with a carbon composite frame, cantering adjustment as well as the ABT2brake and claims to be 20-percent lighter than the current Fusion. Tecnica, which busted open the skate-price Ceiling when it introduced its $400-plus line in early 19%, is currently expanding toget a broader market with its fresh TwinCore (TC) lineup (SRP: $189 to $219).

Fitting into neither the soft nor the hard Boot categories is Miller Sports, which can be succeeding at the top echelon of thefitness marketplace with skates predicated on racing skate technology. Employing the tighter tolerances and also heat-moldablethermoplasts of speed boots, the skates cater to fitness skaters with mid-cut cuffs and added cushioning. For '98, Miller willoffer an elongated four-wheel option to its rising-star Fitness Pro skate (SRP: $599). More EntrantsNot everybody entering the inline industry this Year is a major name.

Take Dalbello Sports, which, after having a sneak peak atMarch's SIA series, is displaying its full introductory lineup of five Spin skates which feature the company's Active SuspensionSystem, a spring-dampening apparatus between the heel and framework. Kaoz, meanwhile, is introducing a line of Roller hockey, fitness and ice skates comprising its E.G.O. system that changes thefore/aft angle of the skate. The machine adjusts to a participant's centre of gravity in order to present the appropriate balanceand speed for varying body contours and skating styles. Trail RidersMost of the focus at Rollerblade's stall Is very likely to go to the company's very first off-road skate, the Coyote (SRP: $499).The high-riding skate sits atop three bicycle-style, 6-inch pneumatic wheels and includes boots which reach way up the skater'scalf.

Roces, meanwhile, the creator of the off-road kind, is stepping up its own program with the inclusion of anadjustable-suspension alloy frame. The Next StepA big story for baseball continues to function as Creation of step frames - with small wheels in the front and large in the back -that is why Mission has awakened using framemaker Labeda to supply Hi-Lo measure frames on three skate models: the VSX, VSi andMod 4. A fresh carbon composite out-sole is going to be used on the VSX and VSi, reducing weight and also supplying addedtorsional rigidity. Looking to provide bang for the dollar, Koho has Created two additions to the IR hockey: the IR3000 Aluminum (SRP: $169) andIR5000 (SRP: $269).

The 5000 includes a synthetic lining, a single-void aluminum frame, an abrasion-resistant vented toe and ABEC3 bearings. Bauer is catering to the net-minders using its First office goalie skates: the RHG3000 and RHG1000. The 3000 comes with Tuukframes, a toe buckle and lacing system, ABEC 5 bearings and Hyper 82A goalie wheels. Finally, with competitive continuing for a Alluring category, a number of businesses have bolstered their offerings.

Among Roces'new Models is the 5th Element, equipped with a replaceable composite framework, Senate Wheels and a version designed especiallyfor women. Oxygen will add the Low Top, featuring a low asymmetrical cuff and a removable frame, as well as two Additional skates.