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Exclusive Interview with Rollerblade Pro Yann Guyader

Mike Ward
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We had the chance for an exclusive interview with Yann Guyader, former professional inline skater from France and current Worldwide Product Manager for Rollerblade, a Major Sponsor for the 2017 NorthShore Inline Marathon. Read below for some unique insights from someone very entwined in the inline marathon world!

NSIM: Hi Yann, thanks for interviewing with us! We are excited to welcome you to Duluth from France for the 22nd Annual NorthShore Inline Marathon.

You’ve been very successful as a professional skater. Can you introduce yourself, provide some career highlights, and some of the history between you and Duluth?

YG: I’ve been Pro from 2003 to 2015, winning 4 golds at World championships & 16 golds at European championhips. Besides track racing, I also raced many marathons worldwide, winning 4 times the World Inline Cup overall ranking.

Duluth is of course special to me for many reasons. Mainly because of its unique windy, slightly hilly course along the lake, making the race very tough. It reminds me of the race back in 2011, when attacking each other with Joey Mantia, I finally made it alone to the finish line with freezing temperature. Being back last year after few years was also a great experience.

After retiring from Pro skating in 2015, I became Rollerblade Worldwide Product Manager. As a former pro skater, this position is kind of a dream because I got the change to keep doing what I love the most. Seeing the inline market popping up again is also something really encouraging for us, pushing us to work on more innovative products in order to push the boundaries of inline skating.

A 2011 Duluth News Tribune clipping from the NSIM office about Yann’s victory.

NSIM: As product manager for Rollerblade, a major sponsor of the NSIM, you have some great knowledge about equipment. What would be your recommendation for skates and wheels for a first time recreational skater or a competitive racer on the NorthShore course?

YG: To my mind a X-FIT 4X80mm skate is kind of a must for rookie skaters. It has a low center of gravity and offers a good maneuverability thanks to its short wheel base. As for competitive racers, I would rather go for 3WD skates with either 110mm or 125mm wheels depending on your fitness. 125mm wheels allow longer strides & higher roll which on the long run allows skaters to save quite a lot of energy while keeping high cruising speed.

NSIM: Some people think of a marathon as a grueling activity that takes months of strict training. How does the training, preparation, and race day for an inline marathon differ from, say, running a marathon?

YG: Having done both running and inline marathons, I can say that skating it is a much much easier task than running it, at least fitness-wise. Having decent skating skills is of course a must, but fitness-wise mostly everybody can do it. You only have to manage back pain throughout the race which for fitness skaters isn’t always easy. Seeing the increasing interest for Inline Marathon, Rollerblade has decided to start, together with its ambassadors, an X-fit challenge which guides skaters through their training program. One of our guys (an urban skater) did last year and finished the Berlin marathon in 1H11min on Twister 3WD skates, which shows that it is not mission impossible.

NSIM: What is your advice for skaters thinking about registering for their very first inline race?

YG: I would just tell them not to be scared about the challenge. Inline has to be experienced if you really want to understand how it feels and I’m a strong believer that who tries it, likes it.

NSIM: Can you tell us a bit about Rollerblade Speed Team 2017? How is the season shaping up so far?

YG: I would say that so far so good. We had some great results in the main European events, winning some of them and we are hoping for more in the coming ones. After a 7 years break, Rollerblade really wanted to be back and show its commitment to grassroots activities. I believe that the entire inline world has welcomed Rollerblade come back. We also had a different approach compared to our main competitors, investing on young talents rather than experienced champions since we want them to grow together with Rollerblade.

Thanks, Yann! The Rollerblade Speed Team will be at the 2017 NorthShore Inline Marathon in Duluth, MN, giving recreational skaters, spectators, and elites a chance to meet and roll with some of the fastest inline skaters in the world!