BLADE LIFE: An Interview with Conor Manweiler
Have you had a chance to blade the USA yet? If so can you compare to Ireland and the scene in Ireland?
Yes, I was over in California years ago skating. There’s not too much in common between both scences. In Cali you have good weather, more shops, skate companies, skating distributors; there is more structure. Though I find here in Ireland it’s a tighter knit community.
When we started discussing this I accidentally said UK in an email to you when referencing, well, Ireland as part of the greater United Kingdom. You were not happy. Talk about the history of Irish rolling and why that reference is so grating.
Ireland became a Republic and left the British Commonwealth in 1949. A lot of people think Ireland is still part of the UK, it’s a common mistake. The Irish rolling scene started in the early ’90s. The first shops started selling skates in 1994. I remember going to a small skating competition, The Street Ball Challange, in St. Annes Park in 1995. My parents ran two small parks from 1997–2000, one in Clontarf and one in Larkhill. These times were the best here, a lot of rollers from all over Ireland came together and got to know each other. A shop called Primetime in Cork starting running the annual St. Patrick’s weekend comps. In 2001 we got our first indoor parks, Rampcity and Ramp n Rail. This was the same year as the first big street comp in Cork. Rolling has died down over and then flourished over the years. I’ve seen some great rollers quit and seen many new faces start. I guess it’s the same everywhere
You set out to make Kaltik with some very specific goals in mind. How do you think you guys are doing in that regard?
I believe the rollerblading community is only truly supported from within itself. I established Kaltik as a grassroots project, simply set out as a genuine skater owned and run company, to support rollerblading in Ireland and abroad. We sponsor and support skaters on our team from Ireland, Hungary, Scotland, USA, England, and the Czech Republic. We organize rollerblading events here in Ireland (namely the infamous St. Patrick’s Weekend Competition), street comps, Indoor Skate Jams, etc….
What have you learned during your run with the company?
Some things I would have never come across if I had never started Kaltik, the biggest being an understanding on how the “rolling industry” works and how only a small number of people who own distribution companies and retail shops have such big takes in “our” industry. It’s also opened my eyes to so many companies taking from the sport and not giving anything back into it.
Is there a fundamental flaw in frames or how most companies make them?
I won’t say there is any kind of fundamental flaw with any of the frames on the market. I’m not personally keen on how some companies put the same product on the market for 5 years or more and don’t make any adjustments or improvements with it.
How do you manage juggling your responsibility as a company owner with your needs as a skater?
Yeah, I have more stuff going on right now than ever before. The biggest responsibility was given to me when my son Callum was born on the 3/25/2010. Besides fatherhood, I’ve been so busy the past 8-9 months since I started to develop the new frame, I haven’t been able to get out as much to skate. I’m busier now than ever between being a father, the progress of Kaltik, skating, filming and looking after the production of our new team DVD. In January I also started to run an inline shop here in Dublin.
I know you are handling distribution from Ireland to the whole world; hows that working? What has that taught you about the global community of bladers?
We sell a lot of the stuff direct to shops around the world. Ease dist. in Japan look after stuff over there, Devious dist. is a skater owned and run dist. company in the UK and they are taking on sales over there once we start shipping our new frames, and we are working on something now with someone in the USA to distribute Kaltik there once the flat frames start shipping.
What’s the best skate you ever owned or rolled?
I will always love my old K2 Fattys, or I guess my old Salomon STi pros would be my all time favorite.
Is it practice and time or skates or just natural ability that separates someone like Al Hooi from the rest of us?
Well, it’s not skates anyhow. I do think some people have a natural abiity. Albert would be one of these, and off course like anything the more you try something the better you get at it.
Speaking of Al, he skates for Kaltik. So does Feinberg, which is a major coup if you ask me. Who else is on the team, and what is it you look for in team riders?
Yeah, Albert has been skating for Kaltik since we started out. I sponsor rollers with alot of potential, like Russell Dinnen from Glasgow and Zima Balazas from Hungary, and many other beasts. I look for someone who is always pushing themselves with their skating, and isn’t all about their “image.” And if someone can be an idol to a kid, well, then he’s got potential
Okay, well, let’s stop there for now. Anyone you want to shout out or thank?
So many people, firstly Kevin and Pariac mc Gloughlin for always helping me with day to day stuff. All the Kaltik team. Donal Glackin for taking the pictures for this profile and many others over the years. Anyone who has ever bought a Kaltik product and supported it. I want to shout out WHO IS SHE and SKULLFUCK! I need to thank Xsjado for the skates, and of course thanks to Isabel for being the best, always being there, and Callum for being the big chief!
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I’ve been following and admiring Conor since I first moved to Dublin in July/2008. HE is such a damn great skater, is showing how to start a company from the beginning and go big with quality and simplicity, always supporting rollerblading somehow and now being DADDY!!!
Congratulations Conor, and all the best for you and all bladers from this lovely place where is REP OF IRELAND!!!!
amazing skating and interview,Conor is such a beast!
nice pics from Glackin too as always!