Henrik’s (43) sore knee sparked news for the national sport: – It’s almost revolutionary (Didrik Tønseth)

Employees of FF rollerskis
Henrik Georg Lindhagen daglig leder i ff rollerskis as
SKIPARKEN: Founder Henrik Lindhagen’s pondering has so far resulted in the following roller ski products from FF Rollerskis AS. Photo: Arne Lysne

Henrik Lindhagen (43) from Teie has always loved skiing. But when a sore knee ruined his enjoyment of exercise, he began to think about new products in a traditional market..

Didrik Tønseth

“I think I get more out of the training hours I put in. It’s almost a revolution in classic roller skiing,” says national team skier Didrik Tønseth enthusiastically.

The man from Trøndelag recently signed a contract with the Teie-based company FF Rollerskis. A start-up company that hopes to turn a market that has not seen much development.

“I’m a qualified car mechanic and the first thing I thought about was how we could develop damping on the roller skis to reduce the strain on the joints,” says entrepreneur Henrik Lindhagen.

Henrik Georg Lindhagen
Innovation: The V-groove in the wheel is just one of several innovations in FF’s roller skis. PHOTO: Arne Lysne

Canadian wooden roller skis…

A lot has happened since that idea was born over four years ago. Henrik knew ski coach Lars Elverum from Stokke IL and asked him for advice.

I thought this would be easy to solve, but Lars told me that it wasn’t the frame that cost a lot on roller skis, it was the wheels.

So Henrik Lindhagen started searching online and through a Canadian who produced wooden roller skis, he got in touch with owner Zoran Bozinovic and his company Springwheel in Zajecar, Serbia.

I emailed a presentation, even though the Canadian thought that the world’s largest wheel manufacturer was unlikely to even reply to me. But suddenly an unknown and unfamiliar phone number rang, and in the summer of 2016 I visited Springwheel, a three-hour drive from the capital Belgrade. From there, it went from ideas and exchanges of ideas to the project behind today’s products,” says Henrik Lindhagen enthusiastically.

Betting even harder now

Henrik’s mother Unni Lindhagen owns the company, and Pernille Engebretsen is now in charge of day-to-day operations. She is also from Teie, but did not know about Henrik and Unni Lindhagen until she came into contact with them while studying innovation and entrepreneurship management at the University of Southeastern Norway at Bakkenteigen.

“I wrote a paper about FF, we got to know each other and they were so pleased that they hired me,” says Engebretsen, who runs her own company. In addition to the administrative part of the company, she is now responsible for raising more capital.

We are looking for investors. Our products are great, we get good feedback and we have good prices. If we want to reach out, we need to work even harder,” says Pernille Engebretsen.

FF Rollerski’s standard skis are manufactured at Cycle Start in Eik, while the professional models in classic and skate are assembled at the company’s warehouse in Horten. The company focuses on online sales to private individuals and direct sales to teams and associations.

Employees of FF rollerskis
ALL MEN ALL: Henrik Lindhagen (left), summer intern Tobias Sørby and Pernille Engebretsen in the premises in Horten where roller skis are assembled. Photo: Arne Lysne

The story of a cancellation

After much trial and error, the year after his first visit to Serbia, it was time to test the skis. For that, Henrik needed a more professional skier than himself. So it was nice to be able to call in a favor.

“I worked as sales manager for Stangekylling, and was in contact with former speed skater Oddbjørn Hjelmeset about sponsoring a competition he was organizing. But there was a mix-up, and I had to take the chicken back and sell it somewhere else. I told Oddbjørn that he now owed me a favor,” recalls Henrik Lindhagen.

And suddenly Hjelmeseth’s roller ski tests in Serbia were a given.

He wondered what the point of the ideas I had was. But I had made up my mind. I was going to develop new roller skis, even if it was just for myself. I came from the outside, which was probably an advantage when it came to thinking outside the box,” says Lindhagen.

During testing, entrepreneur Henrik suggested milling a groove in the wheels.

When Oddbjørn gave a thumbs up, I realized we had something,” smiles Henrik Lindhagen.

Henrik Lindhagen (left) took former speed skier Oddbjørn Hjelmseth
OUT ON TOUR: Henrik Lindhagen (left) took former speed skier Oddbjørn Hjelmseth to Serbia to test roller skis in 2017. Photo: Private

Important local piece

Back to Didrik Tønseth and the summer of 2020.

I train maybe 400 hours on roller skis during a summer. With the FF skis, I get a feeling that’s very similar to snow. Eirik Mysen introduced them to me, and I tested them and liked them right away,” says Tønseth.

Eirik has been a very important piece for us. We got in touch with him through Lars Elverum. He’s very honest with his feedback,” says Pernille Engebretsen.

FF’s roller skis have a proprietary damping system that sits between the fork and the frame. FF is the abbreviation for Floating Fork, which refers to the technical solution.

In addition, they have a V-groove in the wheels of the classic skis, which makes them more directionally stable. With wheels mounted on rims, there is also less wear on the rubber.

Didrik Tønseth on FF V PRO Classic
DELIGHTED: National team skier Didrik Tønseth is now on roller skis from the Teie company. Photo: FF Rollerskis

Believe they will succeed

“It’s a really good product, and I think they will succeed,” says Teie man and Oseberg skier Eirik Mysen. Mysen is an ambassador for the roller skis, just like Tønseth.

“There hasn’t been much technological development in roller skis. The most important thing going forward is to get them on the market so that even more people can test them. I’ve yet to hear anyone who has tried them who doesn’t think FF’s roller skis are better,” says Eirik Mysen, who explains here how the roller skis work.

The roller skis have also been noticed beyond the country’s borders.

The company recently won a contract with the International Ski Federation (FIS) to produce 80 pairs of skis, the top model in classic skiing, to be used in the World Cup in roller skiing in Latvia at the end of July/beginning of August. In addition, they will supply around 100 wheelsets for the freestyle races at the same venue.

Text and images by Arne Lysne for Tønsbergs Blad