Portrait by Gaston Francisco and words by AlexSo you’re in New Zealand right now, which explains your absence from the Awards, what’s going on out there?
Hello, yeah, luckily I got the chance to go on a DC Oz and New Zealand tour. I’ve never been south of the equator and basically used my first chance to go out there. I would have loved to attend the Awards, but these kind of travel opportunities don’t come too often, you know? Besides the rad crew, it’s got best hillbombs, nice beaches and pie.
It was a pretty big year for you last year skateboarding wise: 2 video parts, some DIY stuff in your hometown. What else made it a good year for you?
Hmmm, yes it was. I am very thankful to my sponsors for giving me this chance. Red Bull even went over budget to do our DIY skatepark – something for the local community. Besides the two video parts, which I actually did over about two years it was a cool year travelling, living in London, going to the US, China, Morocco. Every day has been a blessing, learning new things and carrying on.
When you were posted out in London you were completing a uni degree whilst also filming weren’t you? What were you studying?
Basically, I was studying business for 4 years, and in the end chose to go for a Business Management with Marketing degree. The main reason of this choice was that the name of the degree has two parts to it; it’s like a two in one you know? I am very happy I don’t need to go sit in the library no more, it’s quite some stress thinking about upcoming exams and deadlines.
How did you manage to balance the book work (attending lectures etc.) and the skateboarding work (travelling)? (Did you travel for a lot of the degree or was it a single year’s placement?)
I did 3 years in Barcelona and one in London, thus living in Skateboarding capitals, [I figured] going out on missions wouldn’t be hard, and travelling either, as I had good relationships with the tutors and the school in BCN was private. Actually studying Business is as easy as eating pie if you didn’t know. I looked at it as a battle with time, where I must get the most out of it, because time goes on and you can’t stop it. So in order to pass the exams I would study as much as I could during those days.
Frontside wallride. Ph: ChamiWas there a point when you thought you might not accomplish the apparent Herculean task you’d set yourself?
Herculean? Ha! The real problem came when I had to pay my tuition the second year, getting a degree is expensive mate! I wrote a fairly big letter to the director of my school to get a discount in exchange for promotion. I filmed videos for my University, they printed me stickers and I got a decent size discount and could continue my student life in Barcelona. I want to thank ESEI International School, the times were rad as the school was on the top of a hill in BCN and every night would be a 15-minute hillbomb back from school. I think going to University and getting knowledge is okay, it’s just a pity it costs so much and that it sucks you into the system that sometimes forgets sharing and empathy for the other. Treat your neighbor as you’d like to be treated, I say.
So you bartered yourself a sponsorship deal to get reduced fees at Uni? Seems like you’d learned some marketing skills in that first year! Videos as in promotional stuff? On your skateboard?
Yes, my family was doing really hard financially and we were seriously considering me not finishing my studies in Barcelona. But the director of the University was a very nice fellow and I had a feeling they would accept this kind of a bartered deal. I had to do some promotional talking for the University and a little bit of downhill bombing at the very end of the video. The video is a bit embarrassing, trust me! The bottom line though is that I got 30% off the school fee and that let me continue the gorgeous Barcelona life!
Was there pressure for you to hit specific deadlines or was there some flexibility from your sponsors (did they understand your uni work was important)?
I was going to finish what I started. My sponsors understood my priorities very well, they are good folks I must say. It was just tough for me to go on tours for four days where the whole thing would be 10 days or two weeks. There was not much pressure, I’d like to think, although some people would always ask for few more final bangers, you know? I think I started filming for projects fairly early to make it on time, especially with the Element Am video.
What were your initial thoughts on being nominated for the awards (Readers’ Choice & ESOTY) at thus year’s BESA? I mean there were some pretty heavy hitters in there this year.
I got an e-mail from a friend saying that I got a few nominations, I thought it was awesome that people recognised my skateboarding. You know, it just hypes me up for more knowing that people like what I do, it is good encouragement!
And winning the awards?
Regarding my victory, as I said it is an amazing encouragement for future progress and creation. I guess I can say it fuels me for more; it raises my thirst for better videoparts. Besides that it means a lot to my family and friends who have supported me along the way. I used to go on very long drives with my parents across Europe to participate in contests and events, they would come skate the spot with me kind of. It’s funny to look back at it, all the arguments I had with my stepdad… I’m certainly happy I didn’t have to win any contests to get this award.
I hope and promise that this will not make a big-headed fool out of me, we all skate for fun, remember?
Backside powerslide front shov. Ph: ChamiHaha, I’m sure you’ll keep a level head. After speaking to Gaston (Francisco) at the awards he said that you voted for Jesus. Very magnanimous of you.
I think Jesus is one of Europe’s best OG skaters and as a true G he stays cool, [he’s] always got a smile on his face and lives true like a child. I’m happy he got the videopart of the year!
The idea for my awards speech was to use some of the comments from the Readers’ Choice voting page. One thing and another it never happened but we had some interesting opinions voiced online. I’m going to give you some of the excerpt from one of them and I’m asking you to answer them:
Edgar says: This kind of list [Readers' Choice ESOTY] is the worst thing you can do. You are transforming skateboard into a competitive shit.
There are different people in this world, there are different interpretations of skateboarding in this world. For some it’s a contest, for some it’s a form of rebellion. For me it is creating and inspiring the youths. Does Edgar remember how it was to be young and remember first contests, battles with his mates? I see this list as a celebration of good, as something that keeps the industry on their toes. It’s a good promotion of Skateboarding I reckon, appropriate for the digital era.
Surface to Air You fools. Skater of the Year shouldn’t be giving as a gift to the person who’s OG and been long enough around. That’s mislead meaning of this title. It means who was the actual ripper at that time (year).
I voted for Jesus Fernandez as he is an OG and after all those videoparts he’s done and we have loved to watch, he filmed another full part. There are various things that matter, people vote for the European Skater of the Year and they vote for whom they wish, whether they prefer pure shredding or long term involvement, style and motivation. It is a personal choice I guess.
Pole Jam 50-50. Ph: Chami.John
The people is not stupid. This vote has been totally manipulated.
Ha ha, John is absolutely right. Latvian people have been awarded as having the loudest and most supporting fans in hockey several times. This can be applied to any other sport or voting competition. We support our people, and the web’s tendrils were vibrating high during the Readers Choice votes. Besides that I also have a few friends that are good hackers and can manipulate the system, thanks for the support!
Cheers Madars, any last words?
I want to say One Love to people, remember about the other skaters next to you and support your local skatescene. Thanks for this interview!