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Page Extreme sports enthusiasts have inventor Jamie Page to thank for the creation of Crosskate™, a brand new type of cross-country and downhill all-terrain skates that allow an adventurous athlete to "ski" on hard-packed dirt trails and rocky roads.

Young Page often found himself thinking up ideas for cool, new products that did not exist. Thus, he decided he would attempt to make a career out of turning those ideas into reality. The 1989 Belchertown, MA High School graduate earned engineering degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. Then, in 1995, he started Underground Design, a Silicon Valley-based product-development firm, which he ran from 1995 to 1998. There, Page and his team focused on designing medical devices, toys, and sporting goods.

An avid sportsman, Page had always enjoyed hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. He loved California's rolling, hard-packed dirt trails, and imagined how wonderful it would be if he could find a way to go cross-country skiing on them. Of course, in California, a lack of snow in most parts of the state meant he would have to get creative.

That's when Page conceived his idea for the crosskate, in 1997. Page started developing his concept at Underground Design, but soon he moved back east to work full time building a business based on his invention. The move put him back in touch with his MIT contacts in the engineering and venture capital communities, and in 1999 he got his first big break when his business plan for Crosskate, LLC took second place in MIT's annual $50K Entrepreneurship Competition. The award carried a $10,000 prize and networking opportunities.

Through the $50K competition Page met Mark Batho, who had just finished an engineering degree at MIT. Batho became Page's first full-time employee, doing product testing and business development. Since then, the Florence, MA-based Crosskate™ team has grown to seven members. The team includes a former Boeing engineer, an investor who used to own a sporting-goods firm, a designer who graduated from Hampshire College, Page's younger brother Matt, who also studied mechanical engineering at MIT, and a former Sales and Marketing Director from Salomon Smith Barney. In addition, Crosskate™ employs three Sales Representatives.

Page and his team set to work to design a skate that features two 10-inch, air-filled mountain-bike-style tires connected by an aircraft-grade frame made of welded aluminum. The front tire pivots when the wearer leans his/her body, making the steering and turning process much like it is in downhill snow skiing. The skate only rolls forward too, so that climbing uphill is possible without sliding backward. Boots are attached to the skates but lift at the heel for climbing ease, much like the boots worn in cross-country skiing. And disc brakes on both rear tires ensure stopping power. A low center of gravity and the extra-long length of each skate increases stability. Crosskate™ has several US and foreign patents pending.

With the research and development phase having been completed, the Crosskate™ team was ready to move into the production arena. In the summer of 2000, a limited edition of the Crosskate™ 616 BackCountry™ skate was released, which was met with what Page has referred to as "overwhelming demand." Currently, mass production is taking place in Italy and Taiwan, with the first production skates arriving on July 1, 2001. Crosskate™ already has commitments with a number of ski resorts that will be renting the skates for use on their mountains this summer, as well as retail stores that are placing advanced orders. In addition to this success, Page is raising funds to finance his company, with the goal of turning Crosskate™ into a $50 million industry over five years.

Page has high hopes that Crosskate will succeed in the long run because major segments of the multi-billion-dollar outdoor-sports industry have become saturated, creating an opportunity for new products to take hold. Though the Rollerblade company has produced a $400 model called the Coyote, Page said sales were weak because Rollerblade's version had poor brakes, too-small wheels and a high center of gravity, which causes instability.

A pair of Crosskate™ skates retail at $695.00; this cost includes both skis and boots. However, Page says once the company starts making the skates in bulk -- more than 100,000 pairs a year -- the price of the skates should plummet to about $300. "We think that with these we can do for inline skating what mountain biking did for cycling," Page said.

For more information on Crosskate™, visit the company's Web site.


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