Inline Skating Notebook


zoom RSS Interview with Diederik Hol of Cado Motus

<<   作成日時 : 2007/02/03 00:34   >>

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Diederik Hol って誰?speedsk8rs.comでこのタイトルを見たのに、しばらく気づかず素通りしていました。ようやく Cado Motus サイトが立ち上がるまで自動リンクされていた Wikipedia の項目 Diederik Hol! その人だと思い出しました。彼こそが Cado Notus を起業した人物です。興味ある人だけ、どーぞ。

Diederik Hol

Diederik HolThere's no need to point out the innovation and quality that MOGEMA introduced in the skating market since the 90's. But not everybody knows who was the man behind the success of the prestigious dutch brand. It was a young and skilled sportsman with a degree from Delft University and a passion for invention, called Diederik.

You might imagine him as a nerdy, bespectacled ingeneer with pens and calculators in his pocket: wrong. Instead, he's an acomplished racing skater (both ice and inline) with a past in elite level cyclism, and has tried every conceivable sport on Earth, except artistic skating and curling. As a result, he displays huge legs and a ludicrously large butt, although most probably it's a legacy from his biking days.

Married with sweet and patient Marjolein, father of smart boy Stijn and gorgeous girl Robin, you can't avoid liking this guy. Good-natured, ardent and enthusiastic supporter of skating, lovable family man. One can argue that his creations are just like him: pleasant outside, stiff and unbreakable inside. Now he's back with his own brand, CadoMotus, a refreshingly innovative breeze on his tail...

Stijn and Robin: his best creations to date, no doubt (made with their mother's material, fortunately)
For more than 7 years you’ve established MOGEMA as a worldwide recognized quality brand, and came out with some outstanding material. Will you be able to improve your own work?
(thinks for a moment). Yes!
Aha. That’s the right attitude, I think.
And d'you know why? Because the drive to create it’s inside me. No matter what I do or where I am, I’m always looking for new mechanisms, new way of doing things, fresh innovative designs. And I’m not talking only about skating material, but anything: other sports, cars, even house cleaning products… Anything that attracts my attention.
Even girls? I bet you can’t improve their design…
(laughs heartily) When the design involves less square areas, it becomes more difficult.
Difficult as much as picking up the name of your new company, I guess. Please tell us what is this about.
Cado motus is latin and means “falling motion”, wich is, as you know, the basic principle of every kind of speedskating sport. This is what this company seeks to be: an added value for the skater. We want to bring back the joy of skating, to the pro and to the occasional skater… When someone sees a talented skater passing away, they think “ah, if I could skate like that”. It seems effortless, natural, graceful, very fast and everybody would like to skate that way, which is possible only when you properly “fall in motion”. We aim to introduce to the market products that reflect that philosophy, no techie specs, no toys, no marketing bullshit. Just pure skating!
Diederik Hol Right! And what will be the highlights of your 2007 production?
Well, my background lies mostly in in-line skating, so the company will start production dedicated to a range from pro to advanced fitness skaters. As I said, these are no toys, so nothing costing below 200-300 euros. Next winter, we are planning to launch short-track material, together with a well established partner in the USA. Then between 2007 and summer 2008 we will expand our product line with even more Nordic blading, short-track and cross-country bindings.
You are currently working around the clock for the company, sometimes 12 hours or more every day….
Yeah, too much!
… then at night you go the track to train or race, do you?
Oh, yes.
So when do you have sex, then?
Well, it has not been a problem, actually. Besides, after a few years of marriage routine sets in, you know?
No I don’t.
At the moment there’s a lot of pressure on getting the company up and running, aside from taking care of the children and keeping the normal house administration with Marjolene, but I can say that we love and support each other.
<bg>Yeah, sure... It works out just because she’s a skater too! Changing subject: I believe in claps for in-line skates. Apparently you do as well, right?
Yes, I do. As I said when I explained CadoMotus philosophy, we aim for a more natural way of skating, therefore your skates should be an extension of you. Under that light, ultimately what will make you feel the optimum, more natural movement, will be a clap skate. Now, with the development of bigger wheels, we’ve come to a stage where we can better integrate the clap idea into an in-line skate. I still think that the push of a clap is more efficient, although the advantage gained would be less on in-lines than on ice blades. True, that will be difficult to prove, for ice races are time-based so you can immediately see if whatever material you’re using is definitely better, as opposed as a very complex race on in-lines, with so many variables. But eventually we will find out.
So, why did claps failed the first time over?
I think they failed because it was not clearly proven that claps were faster. If you got people on claps arriving 1 or 2 seconds ahead of the rest of the pack, then you can be certain that by today everybody was using claps. Of course there were some world cup races won on claps, but that was not enough: it can be argued that a guy like Arnaud Gicquel at the time could have win even using hockey skates.
Same as Julie Glass, at that period.
Yes, they were the strongest in the field. Then big wheels came out, and that was the end of claps. Now that the big wheel evolution is established –I believe 110 mm is the limit, larger dimensions don’t make sense to me considering issues like stability around the ankle- it is time for a clap comeback. But athletes should test, feel confident and appreciate them: they need to really experience the difference, then they will get results.
Diederik Hol Will claps affect double-push technique?
No, because the clap mechanism will open when the skater is pushing on the outside edge.
Any other revolutionary stuff?
The people I work with (my sources in Asia), have many years of experience producing bicycle parts. As you know, bike’s industry is much larger that in-lines’, so there is to a greater extent more money to research better designs and manufacture methods, which I can use to produce enhanced skates. For instance, I’m working on a frame that combines carbon and aluminium parts.
Wow! Is it going into production any time soon?
No, not soon… but it’s not so far away either. We want to take our time for a re-launch, no advertisements or large marketing campaigns. First we introduce a hi-lo clap frame for Nordic blading, one with 2x90 and 2x100.
Nice. I heard there will be an all-female CadoMotus team competing on the World Cup this year: tell us about it.
Hey! Why do you smile like that?
Er… I pose the questions here, if you mind.
I’m proud to be Dutch, so I’d love to see a good Dutch team competing at the elite level. It fits in CadoMotus current budget, and we are lucky to have very good athletes (on wheels and ice) here in Holland.
Yeah, no doubt. Have you already chosen the girls?
No, not yet.
Well, we hope you pick at least the best looking chicks, since being Dutch they don’t stand a solid chance to win anything outside your local Heineken contest!
(laughs) I think you’re wrong. There are one or two Dutch girls who are capable of climbing on a WIC’s race podium.
Fair enough. I’ll gladly accept the position of team manager. And who will be their coach?
We are in talks at the moment with a couple of world famous, very experienced coaches. I’ll tell you soon.
Ok. And who are your partners in CadoMotus?
The other owner of the company is Mr. Henk Shrawho has one of the biggest skating shops in Europe. He knows the business up and down, and his distribution net is rather ample. With us works Mr. Mick Byrne, Australian skater that has been a world class athlete for many years.

Diederik Hol + Henk Shra = Cado Motus (Mick not pictured. At all)
He has great sense for translating the 'feel' of skating into technical arguments. For me he, is the link between technicians and athletes. He understands marketing as well, and is a skilled designer too. Our opinion about a how a product, or the website, should be often matches.
Where do you get the inspiration to create such dazzling materials? Do you take any of those illegal drugs so common in Holland, or are you just pure genius?
I take ideas from my everyday life. I observe designs from automotive parts to toys, anything that attracts my attention. I also do a lot of research.
In the sense that you’re applying plagiarism to somebody else’s ideas?
Yeah, I like to copy @#ç&%$* products all the time. (*a rather weak brand, not publishable here)
Ha ha. But seriously, have you ever studied other brands’ skates and said “Hey, this is better than mine!”
Absolutely, for sure.
Then tell me which other frames you would use as a skater (if CadoMotus didn’t exist, of course)
I skated a lot on a hi-lo (the first ever model with 3x100+1x84), an American frame called Xenon. Sadly it doesn’t exist anymore.
Let me give you a trickier version of the question: which other brands do you repute as good as CadoMotus?
I kind of respect Maple, for their achievements on ice blades. The man behind Maple design truly listens to the skaters needs, and he has but one goal: to design the best blades ever. About inline brands, I must say that MPC put a very serious effort in designing their wheels (they took about 4 years of development before they actually sell to the public). Regarding frames, I can say Tusa and Arco are doing nice frames. The latter one has an interesting “flexible” concept, which involves pieces of plastic mixed in the metal, allowing for a variable stiffness.
Ok, last one. Who’s the most beautiful girl skater in the world? (ice or inline)
(thinks a lot) Catherine Peñán from Chile. She has this sexy asian-latin mix…
...That is going to be RollerBlade's property from this season, I'm afraid. Better luck next time, man. Diederik Hol
Clap Your Skates: Innovation All Along
by Terry Vrijenhoek Netherlands (posted: August 6, 2004)

Diederik Hol's klapskate, 1996
Diederik Hol is general manager and design engineer at Sportsline International, leader in the design and production of inline skates. This company was set up in 1999 in the Netherlands and has since been the official distributor of Mogema frames. Hol tells his story about how he got involved with skating, why he had to put his dream aside for a while, and how he's become a big name in the skating world.
The Dutch skaters largely beat all competition at the European Championships in ice skating in 1996. In Hamar, Norway, they arrived in the skating rink--the lion's den--wearing clapskates, a design that was then making its first appearance after years of developing and testing. Diederik Hol, now 32, stood at the origin of the worldwide use of the clapskates' design. During his graduation project at Interraps--producer of inline and ice skates--he worked on the improvement of the first (Viking) design. With his results in hand, he turned the 100-year-old patent into a true world-record-breaking product. Less than 10 years later, he's at the top of the inline skate design industry.

It all started in 1995 with an announcement Hol saw at the canteen's bulletin board while doing his M.Sc. in design engineering at Delft Technical University. "Dutch manufacturer of ice speed skates offers six-month research training into designing a clap skate," it read. "Clap skate"; it didn't sound very much like serious research at the time, and Hol saw most students walking by chuckling. He saw however in the ad an opportunity to develop something with the potential of setting new world records, and he used the project as a springboard for his career in design engineering. He graduated having worked on the Rotrax skate, a multiple-hinge frame that ensures a more powerful push-off and thus higher speed.

Broadening His Experience
After graduation, Hol opted against a Ph.D. "I didn't feel like studying anymore," he explains. Instead he wanted to bring his knowledge into practice and learn more about engineering in the real world. Since he started his graduation project, he's been wishing for a career in skate design. "I like fast products and sports," says the man who's ridden many kilometers as an amateur cyclist. Based on his sporting experience, he feels he can relate to the athletes and thus be dedicated, which he thinks is very important for a design engineer.

At the time, however, it was difficult for him to find a full-time job in the skating sector. So he put his dream on hold for a while and worked as an engineer on a variety of other projects. He has for example been involved in the development of automotive designs, solaria, and even platform elevators for wheelchairs. He looked at every project as a new challenge, taking the opportunity to work in different conditions and with different objectives--from the appearance of the products to safety issues. To him this experience has been key in the development of his career. "It helped me a lot in becoming a 'mature' designer," Hol says.

Waiting for the Right Opportunity
All along, Hol had continued to work for Interraps as a freelance designer while hoping for a chance to fully step back into skate design. Sure enough it came along, when Sportsline International, one of the biggest players in the design of inline skates, got in touch with him in 1999. It turned out they had been following Hol's career since he got involved in the clap skate project and wanted him to set up a whole new product line of skates. "I didn't need much time to make a decision," Hol says about accepting the offer.

Yet he knew he had signed up for a serious challenge; Interraps possessed the patent that basically covered all existing inline racing frames--meaning that he had to come up with something completely new. He started thinking and sketching, and after less than a year of dedicated work, he had the solution--what is now known as the Mogema Dual Box. With his new frame in hand, he had to set himself yet another challenge: "I want to have the world's best athletes skating with my products." He got in touch with the Rollerblade World Team--one of the professional inline skate teams in the circuit--through a colleague. He persuaded them to use Mogema's instead of their traditional frames, and when other athletes saw the team's results using their new frames, they got interested too. In 2002--only 3 years after he made his first sketch--Hol got his success: At the World Inline Championships in France, 45 skaters won their gold, silver, and bronze medals on Mogemas.

Back to Ice Skating
Hol realised that with his design experience, he could go beyond inline skating and fasten his irons. Continuing on recent developments in hockey and figure skates, he invented the narrow shape cross section (NSX), the first Mogema design for ice skates. This was nice, but not yet perfect, according to Hol. So he set to work on the introduction of the "crooked skate," a mechanism that uses the traditional clap skate as a basis but that has a hinge clapping sideways.

Hol puts his success down to listening to other people's opinions, keeping an eye on what is going on in the field, and most importantly, being open-minded. "Respect those who come up with ideas and solutions" would be his advice for anyone thinking of getting into design engineering. He listens carefully to the athletes' feedback and takes it into consideration while developing a new design. Sometimes one of his business partners--mostly the producers of the materials he uses--comes up with an innovative material with potential. He just lets his ideas mature in his mind for a year or two, after which he starts developing a prototype. He's also learned that the racing business is one in which companies come up with prototypes and innovations every season, so he warns that one has to stay sharp in this field.

Commercial Side
Hol is now more focused on the commercial side of business. "There's a time for creating products," he says, "and there's one for earning money." Margin increment, cost/price lowering, and marketing strategy are now key words in his daily working life. About half of his time goes to communication with athletes and producers about new developments, feedback, and eventual problems. His partners and clients are all over the world, from the United States to China.

Inline skating is about to become Olympic, which places it somewhere between mountain biking and road cycling in terms of professionalism. Fifteen years from now, Hol still sees himself working on the general strategy and product development of Sportsline International, which he hopes will remain a leader in speed skating. Still, he wouldn't like to see the company growing into a big organisation. Instead, he would prefer to become active in other sport niches, to keep it all "small and simple." These words, to him, are key to the good development of high-tech products. Clap Your Skates


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