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August 2003 Interview of Kathie Fry
by the Editor of Skating.com

In August of 2003 Kathie Fry was interviewed by the editor of the inline skating web site at Skating.com. Here is a reprint of that interview:

KATHIE FRY, SKATING WEBMISTRESS EXTRAORDINAIRE
August 2003 Interview by Skating.com

Skating.com: You started being an inline skating webmistress back in 1998 with the creation of skategrrl.com as an index of skating-related sites. Why did you decide to spend so much time doing this?

Kathie Fry: The truth is, I never really decided to do it at all. It just happened! I created SkateGRRL.com back in 1999 to practice my newly acquired HTML skills and also to organize my skating computer bookmarks and share them with my friends. My career as a skating webmaster got started because five weeks after I put SkateGRRL.com on the Web, About.com discovered it and asked if I would be interested in building an inline skating Web site for them. After a bit of discussion, I decided: "Why not give it a try?" I don't think About.com realized what a monster they were unleashing, and for sure I did not realize it.

Skating.com: Now you are webmistress for the sites skategrrl.com, skatelog.com, and inlineskating.about.com. How much time does this take each week and how do you find the time to do this?

Fry: When I tell you how much time I spend on those sites, I know what your next question will be: "Why in the world do you do it?" The truth is, I spend an average of six to eight hours a day, seven days a week, writing articles and updating my various Web sites. And before you ask, I`ll tell you why I do it. It`s because every day, and even many times a day, I receive news and photos and fantastic material for skating articles from skaters all over the world. I have very close ties with skaters in many different countries, including the expected places like France and the Netherlands, but also in some rather unexpected places, like Iran, Guatemala, and Tunisia. Basically the reason I spend so much time on my Web sites is because it`s fun! I simply can`t resist sharing all of that international skating news with the rest of the world. I love to hear about what skaters are doing in other countries, and I love staying in contact with those skaters. These days some of my best friends live 5000 miles away, even though I might only see them once or twice a year.

Skating.com: Do you actually make money running all these sites or do you have another job?

Fry: Let`s just say... I sure don`t do it for the money, because there isn`t any. About.com pays me to host and edit their skating site, but that money is eaten up immediately by the Web site hosting fees for my personal sites, which are gradually increasing because of the high page views on those sites. I do have a full time job at a large Southern California University and I enjoy that job very much, but these days I spend as much time working on my Web sites as I do working at my full time job. I also spend a great deal of my university income supporting my personal Web sites and my expensive "traveling on skates" habit. I`m really working two full time jobs now, only one of which I get paid for. But I`m not complaining. Certainly no one is forcing me to work so hard. I only do it because it`s fun and if it ever stops being fun I`m sure I will stop doing it. But I don`t expect that to happen as long as I can still work with my wonderful friends in the international skating community.

Skating.com: You are quite a popular lady within the online skating world but we never hear about your non-skating life. Can you give us an example of what you do for fun on a typical Friday evening?

Fry: You mean not everybody in the world spends 16 hours a day sitting in front of a computer!!?? I have to think about the best way to answer that question. An easy way to answer is to tell you about my favorite non-skating activities, even though I have not had much time for those activities in the last couple of years. I studied classical guitar for many years, and also a bit of acoustic blues guitar. I own one magnificent guitar, one OK guitar and several other stringed instruments, including a beautiful domra from Russia that I treasure. I own more than 2000 books, which are stored in huge bookcases all over my house. I`m a PADI and NAUI certified Scuba diver and I really enjoy sea kayaking. I`ve always traveled a lot and my pre-skating trips have included visiting gorillas in the mountains of Zaire and climbing an active volcano on the Island of Java.

But what I think you might really be asking, is what I do for entertainment and (gulp) romance on a typical Friday night. I`m not sure how much I should say about that topic, but I`ll tell you a funny story that will give you some insight. The skaters who visit my chat room are always trying to trick me into revealing details about my private life, and they are actually quite good at it. Once they said I had inadvertently disclosed the fact that I was not married, when I told them I owned 17 pairs of skates. They decided among themselves that if I had been married I never would have been able to get away with spending that kind of money on skates! I thought that was hilariously funny, but I suppose it was also rather true.

Skating.com: You have moved in the last several years from the Internet ether to the reality of skating in many exotic locations. In what countries have you actually skated?

Fry: Lots of them! Through my Web sites, I meet skaters all over the world, and every so often I will pack up my skates and disappear to some remote part of the world to meet new friends and skate with them. In the last couple of years I have skated in Belgium, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and of course many different parts of the United States, including my own home town of Venice Beach California, which is one of the best places in the world to skate.

Skating.com: What was your favorite skating experience in a foreign country?

Fry: That is not an easy question to answer, because I`ve had many very special experiences on skates. Once I skated across a huge bridge in Scandinavia with 7000 other skaters, and another time I skated on a long series of dikes outside of St. Petersburg Russia. On another trip I skated for a week in Mallorca with 40 Swedes from Stockholm, and I love skating in Moscow because that city has the smoothest and widest sidewalks in the world. I`ll never forget the time the entire National Speed Skating Team of Cuba took me on a private skating tour of Havana and, once in Trieste, Italy I spent a beautiful afternoon and evening skating with wild and crazy Italian downhill skater Max Bavieri. The Lausanne waterfront in Switzerland is a lovely place to skate, and Helsinki, Finland has some of the friendliest (and best looking) skaters in the world. Then there was that trip to the Speed Worlds in Belgium where I saw Chad Hedrick win his 50th gold medal and last January in the Netherlands when I met Olympic Champion Anni Friesinger and world famous Dutch photographer Ewoud Broeksma. I would not have wanted to miss any of those experiences!

Skating.com: What places have you visited or plan to visit in 2003?

Fry: So far I already have done quite a bit of traveling in 2003. I was in the Netherlands in January for the European Ice Speed Skating Championships and in April I flew to Cuba for the Havana Inline Marathon. In March it was Florida for the Disney Marathon and San Antonio Texas in May for the X Games Global Championships. I was supposed to travel to Kenya in June to report on a race in Nairobi, but that event has been postponed until September, so took advantage of that postponement to stay home a few weeks and get caught up on my backlog of articles. But I`m sure there will be 2 or 3 more trips this year and of course I will be at our two big Los Angeles events, the X Games in August (woo hoo!) and the Long Beach Marathon in October.

Skating.com: From your vantage point sitting on the top of the online inline world, how do you see the inline skating industry doing? What trends can you predict for us?

Fry: My ties to the skating industry are not as strong as my ties to the skaters themselves, so I am not in a position to predict how many skates will be sold in the next few years, or which skate companies will succeed and which are likely to fail. But I`m sure it`s obvious to everyone that the industry supporting a sport can only be as successful as the sport itself, so the best way to have a successful skating industry is to increase the number of skaters in the world. I have many ideas about how to do that but I think I need a bit more time and space than we have in this interview to present and discuss those ideas. That sounds like a good topic for another article.

Skating.com: One of your web sites states that you don`t see yourself as in competition with any other skating web sites. With the relaunch of Skating.com, does that view change?

Fry: Not at all! I am delighted that Skating.com is back, because it will give me more great articles to link to. I have worked together with the Skating.com principals quite a lot over the years and I see this as one more opportunity for us to work together and combine our resources to make a more significant contribution to the skating community than any of us could manage on our own.

I`m pretty sensitive about the feeling some webmasters have, that we are all competing with each other for page views. I don`t agree with that view at all. I link heavily to every other skating site and I try to help other Web sites promote their newest articles and features whenever I learn about them. If we consider ourselves to be primarily rivals, we will not able to achieve much, but if we all work together, with the primary goal of distributing news and articles and information to as wide a community as possible, we might really be able to reach every skater in the world. I feel the same way about skating organizations and associations who see themselves more as rivals than as colleagues. It`s not at all productive and it`s the kind of thing that can make us our own worst enemy at times.

Skating.com: Thank you, Kathie, for some of your limited time!



SKATING.COM EDITOR'S NOTE: After this interview, Kathie Fry resigned as the webmaster of inlineskating.about.com to focus on her personal SkateLog.com Web site, which was originally known as SkateGRRL.com.



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